With few exceptions, 2003 has been a slow year for specialty A/V retailers. In late November, both Ultimate Electronics and Tweeter Group reported disappointing figures for their third and fourth fiscal quarters, respectively. New York's Harvey Electronics, however, posted respectable gains given the stagnant economy.
Consumer electronics stores have long carried computer gear, everything from laptops and desktop systems to software and accessories. Computer stores, led by Gateway Country stores, have slowly been moving in the other direction. Now it looks as if convergence in the retail realm is about to take another great leap forward.
The music goes round and round: An investment group led by former Universal Music chief Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is in the lead to acquire Warner Music Group (WMG) and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing from corporate parent Time Warner, according to reports issued the third week of November. Bronfman's group—a consortium of banks and venture capital firms—has offered $2.8 billion for Time Warner's musical properties, possibly forcing prior suitor EMI Group PLC to drop out of the bidding. On Thursday, November 20, EMI chairman Eric Nicoll told reporters that Time Warner had informed his company of "a possible proposal from another party as an alternative to our own firm offer."
Each month Sony Corporation announces what seems to be an even more drastic cure for its lingering financial malaise. On Tuesday, October 28, the Japanese industrial giant announced that it would reduce its workforce by approximately 13% over the next three years, cutting some 20,000 workers from its payroll, 7000 of them in Japan.
New York's ailing Bottom Line music club has attracted some heavyweight help. Rock icon Bruce Springsteen and Viacom president Mel Karmazin have joined a campaign begun by New York–based satellite radio service Sirius Radio to save the legendary venue.