Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 8, 2014

Retailers eye store closures

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Two major retailers — with local stores in Mt. Vernon — announced this week they are closing a number of locations due to a sluggish market.

Staples became the second major chain to announce mass closing of stores on Thursday, joining Radio Shack, which announced on Tuesday it was closing one-fifth of its nearly 5,200 U.S. stores.

A spokesman at the local Radio Shack referred inquiries to its corporate office. The Register-News received an e-mail from the retailer’s media department, which stated: “We are not releasing a store closing list at this time. However, RadioShack will maintain market coverage as part of this plan, with more than 4,000 U.S. stores in the RadioShack footprint. We will have information to share in the future.”

According to online reports, RadioShack is closing 1,100 of its poorly performing stores. The company must negotiate with landlords and seek approval from lenders before carrying out its plan. RadioShack has been trying to revamp its stores for the past year.

Analyst Scott Tighman of B. Riley & Company estimated that 5,000 to 10,000 employees will be affected by the store closings, although some of those workers likely would be moved to other locations, the online report stated. RadioShack also has a store in nearby Centralia.

The company is not elaborating on the number of jobs being cut in the latest round of closings, nor the locations of stores that will close. It has 1,846 stores in North America and Canada.

The newspaper also reached out to Staples.

Carrie McElwee, Public Relations Director, stated Friday, “As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint. We are committed to providing great service and every product businesses need whether it’s in-store, online or through mobile. We don’t have additional details to share on specific locations or timing.”

Staples anticipates to close more than 10 percent of its North American stores by the end of next year, up 225 stores as part of a plan to save about $500 million. The company has fallen short of expectations over the last three years and the company launched a plan last year to fundamentally reinvent itself.

While it closes stores, Staples is offering more online. It increased the number of products it sells on its web site five-fold in the past year.

Shares of Staples plunged more than 15 percent at the end of Thursday’s market. It reported earning of $1.16 per share for 2013, well short of the $1.21 to $1.25 per share it forecast as recently as November.