Tweeter Group Expands into Texas

Success begets success. Canton, Massachusetts-based Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, Inc. announced February 2 that it has acquired Home Entertainment of Texas, Inc. The acquisition gives Tweeter a solid foothold in the Southwest, and is the latest in a takeover campaign that has enveloped two successful regional chains in each of the past two years.

With four stores in Houston and three in Dallas, the 42-year-old Texas operation did approximately $25 million in retail sales in its most recent fiscal year (ending June 30, 1998). "We are excited about teaming with the Tweeter organization," said Home Entertainment's president, Roberta Lewis. "It's an impressive company that does everything right. We hope to bring to the party our expertise in custom home-theater installation, an area that Tweeter is moving into." A Tweeter Group press release mentioned that Ms. Lewis will "be joining Tweeter's management team."

Jeffrey Stone, Tweeter's president, called Home Entertainment of Texas "a great company with a superb reputation . . . the Houston and Dallas markets have great potential for expansion."

Expansion has been the name of the game for Tweeter for some time now. Established in Massachusetts in 1972 as New England Audio by Michael and Sandy Bloomberg, the company operated the Tweeter, etc. stores throughout the northeast. In 1996, NEA purchased Bryn Mawr Stereo & Video of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, giving it an instant presence in four Mid-Atlantic states. In 1997 it acquired Atlanta's 10-store audio/video chain HiFi Buys, which increased its number of retail outlets to 53.

Last year, New England Audio re-created itself as Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, Inc., going public on July 16 with a stock offering that opened at $17/share. Since then, the stock has dropped as low as $10.60 and has climbed as high as $35.75. Sandy Bloomberg is still Chairman and CEO of the company he started 27 years ago.

The addition of the Texas stores will give the Tweeter Group its first exposure west of the Mississippi, and a total of 60 stores. All of its acquisitions have had similar profiles: high-volume sellers of mid- to high-end audio and video products, with strong sales, service, and custom installation departments.

Tweeter has twice been named Consumer Electronics Retailer of the Year by trade journal Audio-Video International. The company's revenues for 1998 exceeded $233 million. It reported a 44% growth in first-quarter earnings for the period ending December 31, compared with the same period the previous year. Among the audio lines the Tweeter Group carries are Adcom, Boston Acoustics, Celestion, Klipsch, McIntosh, Monster Cable, Polk, and Proceed.