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CompUSA names new CEO

Just days after shuttering its stand-alone online store Cozone.com, the struggling computer retailer says it is appointing a new chief executive.

Just days after shuttering its stand-alone online store Cozone.com, struggling computer retailer CompUSA today said it was appointing a new chief executive.

The Dallas-based company today tapped former chief operating officer Harold Compton as its chief executive, replacing James Halpin who has been at the helm since 1993. CompUSA said it was reshuffling a number of senior management positions to allow the company to work more closely with its vendors and customers.

But industry experts noted that the housecleaning may be driven by frustrated shareholders who have been upset with the senior management as shares of the computer retailer continually lurched lower in the past few years. With Mexico-based retailer Grupo Sanborns taking over the troubled company, analysts said the cleanup was inevitable.

Carlos Slim Domit, chairman of the board of the CompUSA, said that the board's primary goal is to prepare the company as a leader in technology-retail sector in the United States. The company hopes the new structure will permit its operating managers to respond quickly to changing trends in the industry.

The change in many ways was expected since the buyout. New owners often replace existing management. At the same time, a rift had emerged between stockholders and company management, which has carried a reputation for being brusque and secretive.

A number of shareholders at a November meeting voiced concern about the company's direction, acknowledged a CompUSA spokeswoman. At one point, after being pestered by a shareholder, CEO James Halpin said, "If you don't like the way we are running the company, then sell your stock," recalled one observer.

"Despite what management may say, I expect the senior management will be replaced," David Goldstein, president of Channel Marketing Corporation, which analyses the retail market, said in January.

The stock was unchanged in early trading today, steady at $10.06. Shares of CompUSA have traded just slightly higher at $10.13 and as low as $4.88 during the past 52 weeks.

News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.