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For Sale: Circuit City’s ‘Firedog’ Brand

16 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Circuit City

After shuttered Circuit City’s brand name and related Web site, which go on the block May 11, the former No. 2 consumer electronics retailer’s Firedog in-home IT service is arguably the most recognizable and valuable asset up for grab to the highest bidder.

The Firedog brand is expected to fetch about $3 million when put on the market, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.

Circuit City filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 10, 2008 and ceased operations March 9.

Systemax Inc., a Port Washington, N.Y.-based manufacturer and retailer of consumer electronics, last week signed a “stalking horse” agreement to purchase select Circuit City assets (not Firedog), including patents, trademarks, customer data and toll-free numbers for $6.5 million, according to a court filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond.

If approved, Systemax would pay Circuit City creditors a share of future revenue generated online over a 30-month period.

Launched in August 2006, Firedog was Circuit City’s response to Best Buy’s popular Geek Squad service.

With the proliferation of home networked media centers, flat-panel TVs, digital music system and subsequent Blu-ray players, CE retailers realized a market need to offer in-home service to non-early adopters.

Circuit City bowed Firedog after fielding 500,000 service calls nationwide in a fiscal year, according to a regulatory filing. At its peak, Firedog employed about 3,000 technicians that operated hundreds of vehicles and generated $300 million in cumulative revenue since its launch.

Gabe Fried, founder of Streambank LLC, a consulting firm that is helping prep Firedog and TradingCircuit.com, the company’s proprietary auction platform for returned and exchanged merchandise, said the Systemax bid is intended to establish a benchmark for third-party bidders.

“The awareness level for the [Firedog] brand is incredibly high,” Fried said.

He said TradingCircuit.com would be valuable to smaller regional CE retailers seeking an established online brand with customer list and capable of overseeing shipment product from multiple locations.

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