The Wattles Plot Thickens at Circuit City

Last Updated Aug 20, 2008 2:24 AM EDT

In yet another sign that Mark Wattles is exercising increasing control of Circuit City, the electronics retailer on Tuesday named James Marcum vice chairman. Marcum, one of three directors named to the Circuit City board at the behest of dissident shareholder Wattles, is also on its executive committee.

TVsThe goal, the company said in a statement, is to "accelerate its turnaround," although it acknowledges that strategic alternatives are still being pursued and Goldman Sachs is still on board if a prospective buyer surfaces. Since Blockbuster abandoned its abortive effort to buy Circuit City in June, the consumer electronics chain has continued to falter.

I still think Mark Wattles will buy Circuit City for pennies on the dollar (it's $1.74 a share as I write this) and will put the same strategy in place that turned Ultimate Electronics from a loose group of regional electronics stores held together with spit and baling wire into a lean, well-managed operation focused on TVs.

According to This Week in Consumer Electronics, Marcum was chief financial officer at Hollywood Video, which Wattles founded, and later assisted him in the turnaround of Ultimate Electronics, which Wattles acquired in 2005.

Circuit City Chairman, President, and CEO Phil Schoonover was quoted thusly: "The board and I selected Jim for this role because he is a highly experienced retail turnaround executive. I believe he will be a great partner to me and the rest of the management team as we focus on ways to improve our business."

Will Wattles finally make a bid or will we see a Chapter 11 filing before the holiday shopping season?

  • Lisa Everitt

    A Denver-based business writer, Lisa Everitt is a veteran of daily and weekly newspapers and trade magazines, including The Natural Foods Merchandiser, Rocky Mountain News, Inter@ctive Week, San Francisco Business Times, and the Peninsula Times Tribune.