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As ATL restructures appliance stores, Harding departs

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), a trader of electronics and appliances, is searching for new operating space for two outlets, and has already rebranded one store as ATL Elite in an apparent shift upmarket.

The Elite store, shortly after opening late last year, advertised in its window a shortlived 50 per cent sale that seemed at odds with its positioning.

ATL staff said, Tuesday, that while other sales will be unveiled over time - the next being Mother's Day - they would likely not mirror the first generous 50 per cent discount.

The repositioning of the company, a member of the Gordon 'Butch' Stewart-led ATL Group of companies, started to take shape last year with the closure of the Mall Plaza store and its reappearance under a different name in upscale Manor Park.

Parted company

In the midst of the restructuring, however, which was being led by Zachary Harding, the ATL chief executive officer and his bosses parted company, effective Monday, March 8, less than a year after he was brought in to head the operation.

Wednesday Business
was advised by persons inside ATL that managing director Stephen Chang has taken over as acting chief executive officer.

ATL group spokeswoman Rachel McLarty promised comment, but not immediately, on the changes.

However, ATL in an advisory Friday sent to customers about the reorganisation said it has closed temporarily its stores at Portmore Pines and Mandeville, until it finds "more convenient locations".

Until then, clients are being served from the Kingston and Montego Bay outlets, the company said.

Its other stores remain operational at Manor Park and Half-Way Tree in Kingston, Montego Bay, St James, and Ocho Rios, St Ann.

ATL also plugged its new ATL Credit Card Concierge service, which allows customers to order and pay on the spot at delivery of the goods, via debit or credit card.

Harding joined ATL in May 2009, straight from his job as deputy director with the state-run Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

Much of Harding's career has been grounded in marketing, primarily in private-sector jobs with GraceKennedy, Diageo and Wisynco where he was director of marketing from 2004 to 2007.

At ATL, Harding introduced the Elite brand at the Manor Park store which was targeted at an upscale market for products such as domestic appliances, commercial food-service equipment, room and central air conditioning, generators, industrial equipment, consumer electronics, commercial laundry, and IT and office business solutions.

In its advisory, the company said ATL Elite would make it easier for customers in the surrounding areas to do business with the chain.