Circuit City soon to find replacement for WS

RICHMOND, VA: Consumer-electronics retailer Circuit City has narrowed down its PR agency search to four agencies.

RICHMOND, VA: Consumer-electronics retailer Circuit City has narrowed down its PR agency search to four agencies.

The four finalists are Carter Ryley Thomas, Fleishman-Hillard, Ogilvy PR Worldwide and Stanton Crenshaw, confirmed director of corporate communications Bill Cimino. Incumbent Weber Shandwick did not participate in the review. As Circuit City's fiscal year begins in March, Cimino said he hopes to make a decision sometime that month. He declined to say how many agencies were initially considered, only that he was very pleased with the response to the RFP the company sent out. "We're looking for an agency that can help us with the strategic big picture," said Cimino. "We want someone who can help us see what is happening in the market. Sometimes you can get so focused on the company that you miss out on the trends other companies are seeing." Cimino also wants an agency that can help the company pitch stories to the media. "With 600 super stores in 45 states, in 157 media markets, we have a very proactive media outreach," said Cimino. "But you can only do so much of that in-house." Circuit City is the number-two consumer-electronics retailer, behind Best Buy, in a fiercely competitive market where consumers are often drawn to whomever can offer the lowest prices for popular electronics such as DVD players and digital cameras. In early January, Circuit City reported that December 2003 sales were $1.71 billion, down 1% from the $1.74 billion in sales in December 2002. The disappointing news drove the stock price down 11% to $8.92 the day of the announcement, January 7. On Jan. 20, the stock was back up to about $10.33. Circuit City has been renovating existing stores and opening new ones in its bid to regain market share. Best Buy reported January 8 that revenue for December 2003 was $4.64 billion, up 19% from December 2002 sales of $3.89 billion.

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