January 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Systemax buys CompUSA assets to complement TigerDirect

Systemax is acquiring CompUSA’s brand, e-commerce business and up to 16 retail stores for at least $30 million. CompUSA was sold in early December to a Boston investment banking firm that planned to liquidate most of the company’s assets.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Computer and electronics retailer and direct marketer Systemax Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CompUSA’s brand, e-commerce business and up to 16 retail stores. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008.

The transaction follows about a month after CompUSA’s December sale for an undisclosed amount to Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a Boston investment banking firm that specializes in retailing liquidations, asset management and corporate turnarounds. At the time CompUSA planned to close all but the most profitable of top performers among its network of 104 stores.

The direct costs of the acquisition will depend on the specific retail stores that are ultimately taken over and are expected to be about $30 million, Systemax says. Any indirect costs of the acquisition, including integration and recruiting costs, legal fees and inventory purchases, will be in addition to the direct costs.

“We believe the value of the CompUSA brand remains very high. The company has a long legacy of value pricing, service and customer loyalty among consumers nationwide,” says Richard Leeds, CEO of Systemax, which is No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “We view this acquisition as a strong complementary business to our TigerDirect operation.”

According to TigerDirect CEO Gilbert Fiorentino, CompUSA.com’s customer base enhances that of TigerDirect.com, and the CompUSA retail stores will strengthen the company’s planned retail expansion. TigerDirect currently operates 11 retail stores in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ontario. Pending required approvals, up to 16 CompUSA stores in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico will be added during the first quarter of 2008.

“Millions of loyal customers will come to the Systemax and TigerDirect family of businesses through this acquisition,” Fiorentino says. “We anticipate hiring many experienced CompUSA employees, preserving hundreds of store management and sales positions and making us stronger and better in the process.”

Until the agreement is closed, CompUSA.com and its retail operations will continue to operate under CompUSA’s existing management. Once the acquisition is completed, an upgraded CompUSA.com site will operate within Systemax’s family of e-commerce web sites, including SystemaxPC.com, the company says. The new CompUSA.com is expected to feature advanced search function and enhanced content, including photo galleries and videos on thousands of the most popular PC, TV and consumer electronics items.

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