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"I came here because I believed in this company. I believed that it could win and I absolutely still believe that."
——Larry Gaines, Wherehouse President/COO
WHEREHOUSE REGISTERS GAINES
Executive VP/COO Gaines Upped To President As Hilton Exits
Wherehouse Music President Hugh Hilton has just resigned his post at the 485-store, Torrance-based retail chain. EVP/Chief Operating Officer Larry Gaines will be adding the title of President. This, by all accounts, signals a return of focus to Wherehouse’s core brick-&-mortar business. Gaines came to WH after the ’98 acquisition of the Blockbuster Music chain, where Gaines was President. Many in the industry were surprised, to say the least, when the prexy nod did not immediately go to him.

"I had the opportunity to stay with Blockbuster, but I came here because I believed in this company. I believed that it could win and I absolutely still believe that. We’re going to work hard to develop new categories while we continue to go after our DVD business, which is a strong suit, and look for ways to stop the bleeding in new music."

To that end, Gaines has brought in former Musicland veteran Brad Tait as VP Business Development to help roll out new product lines. CFO Mark Velarde will now also be overseeing personnel, adding Chief Administrative Officer to his title. Tony Alvarez will continue as Chairman/CEO, but word has it that he will be dealing less with the day-to-day of the business and start to take on some outside projects. Alvarez came to WH as a turnaround specialist when the company was in Chapter 11.

Does this possibly signal a spit-and-polish job to prepare the company for a sale? Our sources tell us definitely no. Majority-owner Cerberus is said to be very committed to the long-term potential of the business. And even though WH recently sold three stores in the Southeast to Music Network, don’t be surprised to see WH active on the acquisition front while possibly continuing to sell off some of their under-performing stores. Hilton will return to his duties at the N.Y.-based turnaround firm of Alvarez & Marsal as Managing Director of the So Cal office.

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