Circuit City CMO Peter Weedfald Resigns

Electronics Retailer Has Struggled With Layoffs, Departures and Shrinking Profits

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Amid turmoil at Circuit City, Peter Weedfald, senior VP-chief marketing officer, is leaving the company.
Peter Weedfald
Peter Weedfald Credit: Scott Gries

Mr. Weedfald said yesterday he would be departing this week to return to his home in New Jersey. "I will be intently focused, full-time, seeking my next sales and marketing opportunity," he wrote in an e-mail.

Mr. Weedfald left Samsung to join Circuit City in July 2006 and was named top marketing executive in September of that year. In the 18 months that Mr. Weedfald spent as chief marketing officer, the retailer struggled with layoffs, a string of executive departures and poor financial performance. Last Friday, Circuit City acknowledged that it had received a proposal from shareholder Wattles Capital Management, which owns a 6.5% stake in the retailer. In the proposal, Wattles sought to replace the entire 12-member Circuit City board of directors with its own nominees.

Mass firings
Many point to mass firings last March as a defining moment in the retailer's downward spiral. CEO Philip Schoonover fired 3,400 of the chain's most experienced employees. And Circuit City has posted a net loss each quarter since then, on top of reporting a $12 million net loss in fiscal 2006. Fourth quarter and fiscal year 2007 results are to be reported April 9.

The most recent high-profile departure came in January. George Clark, exec VP-multi-channel sales, left the company despite having entered into a cash-incentive agreement. The agreement, which was approved by Circuit City's board of directors in December, applies to exec VPs and senior VPs and was meant to stem the tide of departing talent. Under the agreement, senior VPs (the title that Mr. Weedfald held) receive $600,000 for staying with the retailer until January 2011, while exec VPs earn $1 million.

When Mr. Weedfald was appointed to the role, Mr. Schoonover said that he would be responsible for unifying the ailing retailer's branding efforts and building the Firedog brand, which is Circuit City's electronics-servicing unit. But sales have clearly not seen an uptick due to its marketing campaign.

Reasons unknown
In his e-mail, Mr. Weedfald did not offer a reason for his departure. He did say that "it has been my honor and pleasure to have served so many dynamic, affable and spirited Circuit City leaders throughout our stores, departments and work groups ... across our multichannel retail enterprise. I continue to be highly supportive of all of our Circuit City associates focused intently on the art of the possible during difficult, hyper-competitive and cloudy economic times."

Euro RSCG Worldwide, Chicago has handled Circuit City's creative account since November 2006. In 2006, the most recent full year for which data is available, the retailer's total advertising spending in the U.S. was $498.2 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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