Circuit City lays of 11 in N.H.

Circuit City, the nation’s second-largest home electronics retailer, is laying off 11 employees in New Hampshire as part of its recently announced decision to give the ax to 3,400 of its higher-paid workers in favor of rehiring new staff at lower pay rates.

In a release dated March 28, the Richmond, Va.-based company said it was “taking a number of aggressive actions to improve our cost and expense structure,” which will result in the “separation of approximately 3,400 store associates” who were “paid well above the market-based salary range for their role. New associates will be hired for these positions and compensated at the current market range for the job.”

Of Circuit City’s six stores in the Granite State, associates in Manchester, Nashua and Salem were not affected by the job cuts, but two associates were laid off in both the Concord and Keene store and seven at the Portsmouth location.

Spokesperson Jackie Foreman said she did not have a salary breakdown or company pay ranges for the New Hampshire stores, but the positions affected paid 51 cents or more above the company’s range for that position.

“The retail market is extremely competitive, and we need to keep prices down for consumers,” said Foreman.

She said those laid off will received separation pay based on length of service and may re-apply for lower-paying positions 10 weeks after their employment termination dates.

Foreman said she did not know if the separation package contained further assistance or benefits to terminated workers such as job placement assistance.

These layoffs are the latest attempt for the chain to boost its sagging earnings.

On Feb. 6, the company announced store closings and other restructuring moves to shore up its sagging financials, expecting some pretax expenses of approximately $85 million to $105 million.

The company also repurchased approximately 57.9 million shares of its stock and is eyeing the purchase of another 5 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007.

Two weeks before the March 28 layoff announcement, Circuit City issued a quarterly dividend of 4 cents per share payable April 16 to shareholders of record as of March 31.

As the retailer sheds jobs, several senior executives have also been let go. Circuit City announced on Feb. 8 that Douglas T. Moore, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, had left the company.

On Feb. 23, Michael Foss, executive vice president and chief financial officer, gave his resignation.

Circuit City plans to release its fourth quarter and fiscal year results on Wednesday. — CINDY KIBBE

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