Originally created 08/31/99

CompUSA Inc. cuts jobs nationwide



Dallas-based technology retailer CompUSA Inc. cut 50 percent of its commercial sales staff Thursday, eliminating 1,800 jobs nationwide. The layoffs came hours before the company reported fourth quarter losses of 16 cents a share, excluding nonrecurring costs.

A manager who answered the phone at the CompUSA store on Robert C. Daniel Parkway reported four layoffs locally, however he said they have been offered alternate positions with the company. Store manager Keith Campbell did not return several phone calls about the layoffs.

CompUSA's profits have been negatively impacted, in part, by a continued decline in average selling prices. The company also has been stung by increased competition from consumer electronics merchants such as Best Buy.

In an effort to restore profitability, CompUSA is cutting its corporate sales staff and stocking stores with a larger variety of items, including digital cameras, interactive toys, camcorders and DVD players.

Thursday's layoffs were preceded by an announcement in June that CompUSA planned to cut between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs and close 10 stores in an effort to increase gross margins, reduce operating costs and improve customer service.

While more positions are being eliminated than originally predicted, only four stores have closed -- three in Florida and one in Texas.

No additional stores are planned to close during the restructuring, said CompUSA spokeswoman Suzanne Shelton.

The commercial sales representatives retained under the restructuring will be regionally-based instead of working out of CompUSA stores. Businesses wishing to place orders with CompUSA will be directed to the company's new Dallas-based call center.

The call center will employ 750 commercial team members.

ComUSA employs about 22,000 people in 210 stores nationwide.

Fourth quarter net losses, which don't include charges for the company's restructuring, totaled $14.9 million, compared to $17.1 million in the same period last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Heidi Coryell can be reached at (706) 823-3215.