Waitt cleans house on first day back in Gateway CEO chair

Gateway Inc., the PC retailer, has had a management overhaul in the past two days, as it attempts to turn around flagging PC sales.

The first big step came as chairman Ted Waitt was named CEO of the computer retailing company that he and Mike Hammond founded 16 years ago. On Tuesday, his first day back as CEO, Waitt replaced three of the top eight people on his management team.

"We are fortunate to have an aggressive and nimble management team with decades of industry experience, tremendous business acumen and total focus on client satisfaction and shareholder value," Waitt said today in a statement. "We need to get off to a fast start and we have a lot of work to do. I am confident that the team we have in place will execute against our proven strategy in order to deliver continued success."

The management shakeup comes almost three weeks after Gateway announced it would cut its workforce of 20,000-plus employees by more than 10 percent after suffering a US$94.3 million fourth-quarter loss. According to a report released today by International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., PC sales will continue to slump, at least in the U.S., through 2004.

The Gateway stock was down 36 cents to $21.30 in Tuesday's late-morning trading.

Waitt Monday replaced Jeff Weitzen, who announced his retirement after about a year as Gateway's CEO. After taking the helm once again, Waitt made the following changes:

Joe Burke becomes senior vice president and chief financial officer, replacing John Todd; Bart Brown becomes senior vice president, Gateway Consumer, replacing Cliff Holtz; Dave Russell, who was most recently vice president, Supplier Management, becomes senior vice president, Supply Chain Management.

Todd and Holtz are both leaving the company to pursue other interests, according to the announcement, which continued: "As part of this reorganization of the team, other executive officer positions have been eliminated and those officers are leaving the company."

Not everyone is getting a pink slip today, however. Four senior executives will remain in place. Sue Parks remains senior vice president, Gateway Business. Hammond remains senior vice president and will head the company's global manufacturing operations. William Elliott remains senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. James Pollard remains senior vice president and chief information officer. John Renfro remains senior vice president, human resources.

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