Greener BeeGreen ElectronicsElectronics retailer HHGregg unplugs Michigan search

Consumer electronics and appliances retailer HHGregg Inc., which had been considering entry in metro Detroit and other Michigan markets, has tabled its plans — at least for now.

The Indianapolis-based company had been in negotiations with numerous landlords around Michigan for the past six months or so, confirmed Chris Brochert, a partner at West Bloomfield Township-based Lormax Stern Development Co.

Lormax Stern was working with HHGregg on five Detroit-area locations, but the company was “on-again and off-again” before it finally indicated it would not be entering any Michigan market at this time, he said.

“We just wasted a lot of time and a lot of money, as I’m sure many other landlords have as well,” Brochert said.

“We’ve leased or are in advance negotiations on almost every single space we were working on for them.”

The company did not say why it chose to halt its plans, Brochert said.

HHGregg said its “goal is to become a national retailer of appliances and electronics and as such we explore options in different markets,” said Jeff Pearson, senior vice president of marketing at HHGregg, in an emailed statement.

“We do not have any firm commitments for the Detroit market to share at this time.”

HHGregg stores, which are typically about 30,000 square feet each, sell flat-panel televisions; premium
video products including cellphones, tablets, GPS devices, iPods and other MP3 players; name-brand appliances; audio products; and furniture at competitive prices, according to the company’s website. It competes with such retailers as Best Buy and Radio Shack.

Announcements of HHGregg openings in other markets indicate each store creates from 60 to 120 jobs.

The city of Roseville, which would have seen one of the new electronics and appliance stores, was also left perplexed by HHGregg’s decision not to move into the market for now.

City officials said the company contacted the city in June to provide preliminary plans for a new store at 13 Mile and Little Mack, a former Circuit City location, expected to open in June 2013.

HHGregg was seeking a height variance because the entryway it planned for the store would have been taller than the 40-foot limit Roseville has for such structures, said building director Glenn Sexton.

The company wasn’t seeking any tax incentives, he said.

Sexton said he followed up with the company earlier this month to check on the status of the project, and that’s when he was informed that the company had “to put (its) market entry on hold for now,” he said.

Sexton said that HHGregg’s director of real estate, Steve Nikel, wrote in an email, “While we are disappointed, we had to postpone our efforts in the Detroit area; hopefully, we will be able to revisit your market in the future.”

HHGregg has been on an expansion path this year. According to its website, it operates more than 218 stores in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The company entered Missouri and Wisconsin in mid-September, with stores in St. Louis and Green Bay and three others expected to open this fall near Milwaukee.

It also expanded with two new stores in Illinois and announced plans to open new stores this fall in Port Richey, Fla., and Atlanta, Ga., this fall.

Sherri Welch: (313) 446-1694, swelch@crain.com. Twitter: @sherriwelch

Article source: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20120923/SUB01/309239964/electronics-retailer-hhgregg-unplugs-michigan-search


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