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Electronics retailer hhgregg to close 88 stores, including all in Maryland

Hhgregg will close 40% of its stores and leave 12 Illinois locations open as it works to stem the red ink and turn around slow sales.

Struggling electronics retailer hhgregg announced Thursday it will close 88 stores nationwide, including six in the Baltimore area, as it retrenches in an effort to return to profitability.

The Indianapolis-based retailer is pulling out of the Mid-Atlantic, closing all of its stores in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and others elsewhere, as well as three distribution centers, one in Prince George's County.

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The closings, scheduled to be completed by mid-April, will eliminate about 1,500 jobs, the company said. An hhgregg spokeswoman said the company employs 10 to 20 people per store and 63 at the warehouse in Brandywine.

The Baltimore-area stores hhgregg is closing include locations in Annapolis, Bel Air, Catonsville, Glen Burnie, Hanover and Towson.

The company said the decision will allow it to focus on core markets with its remaining 132 stores.

"We are strategically exiting markets and stores that are not financially profitable for us," Robert J. Riesbeck, hhgregg's president and CEO, said in a statement. "This is a proactive decision to streamline our store footprint in the markets where we have been, and will continue to be, important to our customers, vendor partners and communities."

Riesbeck said the company scrutinized its real estate portfolio, identifying underperforming stores as well as locations no longer in strong shopping destinations due to changes in the local retail landscape.

In January, hhgregg reported its sales fell nearly 24 percent to $453 million in the October-to-December quarter. Its loss for the period more than doubled to $58 million, from $26 million the year before.

Last month, hhgregg announced that it was exploring a range of potential strategic and financial transactions to improve liquidity and return to profitability. The retailer said it has hired investment banking firms Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and Miller Buckfire & Co. to assist it.

The company's stock price doubled to close at 26 cents a share in over-the-counter trading Thursday. The stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week.

Inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the coming weeks, the company said.

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