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Ultimate Electronics Ceases Operations

8 Feb, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ultimate Electronics store at Mesa Spectrum in Mesa, Ariz.

Economic reality finally caught up with Mark Wattles.

Wattles-owned consumer electronics retail chain Ultimate Electronics is ceasing operations, joining Circuit City in an industry beset by consolidation and increased outside competition from Walmart and Amazon, among others.

Thornton, Colo.-based Ultimate Electronics, which operates 46 stores nationwide, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 26, citing a debt of several hundred million dollars.

Store personnel contacted at an Ultimate location in Chandler, Ariz., confirmed the closure, saying liquidation could begin in days and last from four to six weeks.

In addition to CE products such as Blu-ray Disc players, HDTVs and 3D components, Ultimate sold packaged media, including more than 10,000 movies and video game titles.

Movies and games were a direct result of Wattles’ long experience in home entertainment. The executive, who founded Hollywood Video and then sold it to Movie Gallery for $1.2 billion in 2005, acquired Ultimate shortly thereafter with longtime Hollywood Video executive Bruce Giesbrecht. They opened 10 new stores in 2010.

Wattles, who continued to operate numerous Hollywood Video locations after selling the company, at various times owned significant stakes in Circuit City and Blockbuster — the latter now attempting to emerge from bankruptcy.

“It sucks,” said a Chandler employee. “Now [Wattles] just wants to close all his stores and screw his employees.”

A representative from Ultimate’s corporate headquarters was not immediately available for comment.


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