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HHGregg merchandising post turns over again

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HHGregg Inc. on Tuesday hired its third chief merchandising officer in just over a year as the Indianapolis-based electronics retailer continues to struggle to overcome plummeting sales of televisions.

HHGregg named former Sears marketing executive Jeffery G. Haines as chief merchandising officer. He replaces Michael G. Larimer, who will return to his old position as senior vice president of electronics merchandising.

Larimer had been chief merchandising officer from September 2009 through February 2012, when he was replaced by another former Sears executive, Douglas Moore. But Moore resigned after just four months on the job, and Larimer had filled the post again since then.

In the nine months ended Dec. 31, HHGregg saw profit nosedive 44 percent, to $15.4 million, as stores open at least a year experienced a 22-percent drop in video-category revenue.

That decline in video sales followed contractions of 8.7 percent, 6.3 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively, in each of the previous three fiscal years.

HHGregg has tried to counter those declines by boosting sales at its 228 stores with a variety of other items, including tablet computers, mobile phones, fitness equipment, furniture and mattresses.

But it hasn’t been enough. Same-store sales fell 8.3 percent in the most recent nine months, even after they had dropped in each of the previous three years.

HHGregg has tapped Haines to help turn things around. He was until October 2011 the CEO of Illinois-based NSA Media, a media-buying firm formerly known as Newspaper Services of America. Before he joined NSA in 2004, Haines was a marketing manager for 24 years at Chicago-based Sears Holding Co.

Haines, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Western Illinois University, will be paid a salary of $315,000 and is eligible for performance-based bonuses.

Larimer was paid a salary of $271,000 in HHGregg’s most recent fiscal year. He also earned stock and cash bonuses valued at $313,000.

HHGregg shares fell 39 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $9.83 each, Tuesday morning amid an overall rise in the market.

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