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Electronics retailer Expert goes bankrupt

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Electronics retailer Expert goes bankrupt
10:20 CEST+02:00
Swedish home electronics chain Expert filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday after cash injections by the owners and strict austerity measures failed to save the company's finances following several years of losses.

”There are many of us who have worked very hard to turn it around, but we have been unsuccessful. It is very sad that we have had to take such a drastic measure as filing for bankruptcy," said Expert CEO Magne Solberg in a statement.

“I am the first one to regret that co-workers, franchise owners, customers, suppliers and others are being affected.”

The bankruptcy directly affects 817 employees at the company's Swedish head office and in 73 of the company-owned stores. The Swedish franchise-owners are not included in the bankruptcy but are indirectly affected by the process.

Expert Sweden AB has 136 stores across the country, of which 73 are owned by the company and 63 by owned by franchisers. The company is one of the largest retailers on the market and has an annual turnover of 2.8 billion kronor ($428 million).

Customers who have purchased goods in the company-owned stores will also be affected by the bankruptcy.

On its web-page the company writes that they no longer will be able to accept compensation claims. Neither will customers be able to return or exchange products that they have prior to or after the bankruptcy.

Guarantees issued by the company itself are no longer valid and customers are referred to the manufacturer and whatever guarantees they have. Neither will the company cash in gift coupons and customers who want to be compensated are advised to contact the bankruptcy administrator.

Expert's customer service operations will continue to function “over a transitional period” for customers who have questions, the company writes on its web page.

Jonas Arnberg, analyst at the HUI research company, said news that another Swedish electronics retailer was facing bankruptcy wasn't especially surprising:

”This is the race to the bottom in a business where no one makes money. We have said for a very long time that this is a business with untenably harsh competition and that a number of shops will have to close.”

In July 2011, home electronics retailer ONOFF went bankrupt, citing stiff competition, price pressure, and low profits.

That yet another electronics retailer would succumb to competition was not unexpected, according to Arnberg.

However, it was far from self-evident that Expert would be next to fall.

He theorized the bankruptcy might be connected to the company's business model, which relied on so many franchise owners.

“This business model is problematic in times when things move fast. It takes a lot longer to make decisions than in chains where the head office dictates conditions,” said Arnberg.

TT/The Local/rm

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