Channel To Close Stores In March If No Buyer Found

Home Depot Plans To Launch Center In Glen Burnie

January 28, 1991|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff writer

Channel Home centers in Pasadena and Annapolis will close at the endof March if a new owner is not found.

The bankrupt home improvement retailer has started negotiating with several potential buyers, but no Maryland stores have sold yet, spokesman Alan Barrington said.

The Whippany, N.J.-based independent chain wants to sell 11 Maryland stores as a group, Barrington said. He could not predict the likelihood of the stores selling by March.

Channel employs 34 people at Giant Festival At Riva and 35 at Festival at Pasadena on Ritchie Highway.

As Channel prepares to pull out of Anne Arundel, another chain plans to move into the county.

Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home center retailer in terms of sales volume, will open a 100,000-square-foot store with a 30,000-square-foot lawn and garden center this summer in Glen Burnie, said spokesman Lonnie Fogel.

The new outlet, the first Home Depot in the Baltimore area, will move into The Price Club building on Route 10 and Ordnance Road. It will sell building materials, home improvement products and lawn and garden supplies, Fogel said. The Price Club will move into a newly constructed building in the area.

Atlanta-based Home Depot has launched a major expansion into the Northeast. The company already runs 11 stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

An additional three stores will open in the Baltimore area by 1993, including one on U.S. 40 in Baltimore County.

"Over the long term, the Northeast is predicted to be the company's largest market because of the population density, weak competition, high numbers of aging housing stock and harsh weather," Fogel said.

By 1994, the company expects to increase its 4 percent share in the do-it-yourself home retail market, with 83 stores in the Northeast, Fogel said. Now, 143 stores are scattered throughout Florida, the Sun Belt and California.

Chains like Home Depot andthe popular Landover-based Hechinger Co. have increasingly edged ahead of competitors like Channel.

Channel's sales have been less than, but close to projections, Barrington said. The company ran into trouble, he said, when it closed its Handy Dan home improvement stores in the South, but had to continue paying rent. In 1986, the company suffered a heavy blow in a debt-heavy leveraged buyout from W. R. Grace Co.

Channel has put its Maryland stores on the market as part ofa bankruptcy reorganization plan. The company filed this month in New Jersey for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Once it has reorganized, Channel will have reduced to 52 its 86-store chain in nine states and in Washington. By closing stores in Baltimore, Washington and parts of New England, the company can concentrate on its more profitable New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York outlets, Barrington said. In Maryland, only the Hagerstown store will stay open.

"Management will have the necessary time to streamline the company and restructure the business so that thebest interests of all of its constituents are served, including its customers, vendors and associates," said Joseph Nusim, Channel president.

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