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Floundering Retailer Mum
AP Technology Writer

A turnaround plan was outlined by the company during a January analyst meeting included shutting down 480 stores this year, getting rid of poor-performing merchandise such as metal detectors and music keyboards, laying off 500 employees and upgrading nearly 750 stores before this year's holiday season.

Such layoffs, store closures and merchandise adjustments are typical first-step turnaround moves for any retail business, said John Champion, strategist at retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates.

Another outline of RadioShack's turnaround plan, posted on the company's Web site, focuses on several areas.

Goals include increasing the average sales volume at stores, reducing costs and overhead, and making the most of retail space by opening more kiosks, relocating stores to more lucrative locations and growing the online business.

A hint of the company's Internet strategy was offered last week, when RadioShack announced a series of free online courses to educate shoppers about various consumer technology topics.

Though he wouldn't address the company's turnaround efforts, Bob Kilinski, RadioShack's vice president of marketing, said the company was working to expand its online presence.

"Regardless of any turnaround discussion this is just a continuous reinforcement of what RadioShack stands for in people's minds," he said. "We need to be out there giving advice and building loyalty and trust in the RadioShack brand. It's an extension of our offline brand."

Still others believe Day, the man who pulled Kmart out of bankruptcy and has held senior executive posts with Sears and Safeway, is the right person for the job.

The lack of information is expected, given the internal changes Day probably will be implementing in coming months and years, said Champion, the analyst.

At the same time, it could be another year before Day is able to clearly demonstrate improvements, he added.

"They didn't get to here overnight; it's going to take a good bit of time to turn around. I certainly think Julian's a very capable person to do that," Champion said. "It's the same challenge any retailer faces: They have to figure out what is the unique story, and that's what's you've got to craft for the consumer."

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