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CompUSA To Close Up Shop

PC Retailer CompUSA plans to close all its stores after the holidays, part of a sale of its assets to Gordon Brothers Group, a restructuring firm. CompUSA, owned by the Mexican based firm Grupo Carso SA, has 103 stores in 68 markets. Reports said that Gordon Brothers would look to sell individual stores in certain markets and close those that it could not sell.

In recent years, CompUSA has struggled against other big-box retailers such as Best Buy and Internet-based companies such as CDW. Earlier this year, CompUSA had tried to ignite some interest with small businesses by reaching a deal with Microsoft to offer the services of Microsoft's Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) to CompUSA's small-business customers.

Under the plan, CompUSA would refer customers that needed services to the 3,750 Microsoft SBSC partners in the United States, providing the partners had registered as a CompUSA TechPro Business provider.

A typical opportunity with CompUSA might have involved resolving a server or an application issue for a current customer or helping a new customer set up an office, said Gregory Geodakyan, managing partner at SoftNet Technology, an Iselin, N.J.-based solution provider, in an interview with CMP Channel earlier this year.

"This is a good market. Until this point, it's been up to us to shake the business out of [CompUSA's] business services guys for the leads. Now with the formalization of the program and with Microsoft throwing some might behind it, it will raise the profile of the program," Geodakyan said.

Many solution providers also used CompUSA as an alternative sourcing option, but it was clearly not enough to support the company, which had already closed more than 100 stores earlier this spring as part of a restructuring.

CompUSA was founded in 1984 and rose to national prominence under the guidance of Nathan Morton. As chairman and CEO, Morton led CompUSA from two stores and $60 million in sales as SoftWarehouse to its standing as a multibillion-dollar national retailer in less than five years. He was posthumously honored as a member of CRN's Industry Hall of Fame in 2006. He succumbed to cancer at the age of 57 in 2005.

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