Trans World Entertainment Corporation is on the hunt for a new leader with the announcement today that longtime CEO Robert J. Higgins is set to step down.
Higgins founded the Albany-based company in 1972 and has overseen its transition from a single store that sold records to a chain of mostly mall-based stores that today sell CDs, DVDs, video games and trend items under the F.Y.E. name.
He will step down as CEO once a successor has been chosen, but will stay on as chairman of the company’s board of directors. The board has formed a committee to oversee the search for a new CEO. It will engage an outside firm to conduct both an internal and external search for candidates.
Trans World operates more than 350 F.Y.E. locations across the nation. In recent years, it has shifted its business model from a retailer that’s all about CDs to a retailer that specializes in movies, music, electronics, video games and trend items like band T-shirts. The shift helped bring in new revenue so that over the last few years the company was able to turn a profit.
In its first decade, Trans World grew its retail business from one store to 38 stores thanks to the growth and popularity of malls. In 1982, the company sold its wholesale business to focus on the retail side, expanding its retail stores to more than 200. By 1986, the company had gone public.
The industry changed with the introduction of CDs in 1983 and home video in 1989, allowing Trans World to grow by about 41 percent each year. By 1994, it had 712 stores. Over the years, the company has acquired retail music competitors: Strawberries, Inc., Camelot Music Holdings, F.Y.E., Wherehouse Entertainment and Musicland.
As music and entertainment consumption shifted to the digital realm in the 2000s, Trans World sustained several straight years of losses. It finally returned to profitability in 2011.
The company also reported its most recent financial results today. For the 2013 fiscal year ending Feb. 1, 2014, the company reported net income of $8.3 million and net income of $33.7 million. For the most recent fiscal year, comparable store sales were down 5 percent from fiscal year 2012. Total sales decreased 14.2 percent over this period to $393.7 million.
The company operated 354 stores in 2013, compared to 378 in 2012.
Reach Gazette reporter Bethany Bump at 395-3107 or email@example.com.