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UA Theaters to revamp, taps retailer for board

LAS VEGAS — United Artists Theatre Circuit, seeking to improve its strategic focus, added financial and retail exec, John Boyle, to its board Wednesday.

Boyle, 67, is a former CFO of drugstore chain Eckerd Corp. and still sits on the boards of Eckerd and on Super-markets General Holdings Corp., as well as being a former partner at accounting firm Arthur Andersen and Co.

United Artists is hoping Boyle’s expertise in retailing will help the troubled exhibitor’s efforts to revamp its busi-ness. UA plans to reduce the number of markets it is in, focusing on those where it has a significant market share or strong revenue base.

Boyle is well known to execs at UA and its controlling shareholder, Merrill Lynch, and its advisors on the UA investment, leveraged buyout firm Stonington Partners. Eckerd, which was recently acquired by JC Penny, was controlled by Stonington and was one of the firm’s better investments, Wall Streeters say.

“Jack was instrumental in the highly successful Eckerd buyout,” said Albert Fitzgibbons, a UA director, in a statement. “We are very pleased Jack has agreed to provide his retail expertise to the company.”

UA acting chief operating officer Kurt Hall added that Boyle’s appointment “is a welcome step towards finalizing the company’s restructuring which has occurred over the past few months. Our business faces challenges similar to those facing any retail business.”

One of the strategies pursued by Boyle at Eckerd was building up its presence in certain markets by swapping its drugstore holdings with other retailers, Wall Streeters say. UA is believed to be eyeing a similar strategy as it moves to transform what is now a fragmented presence in 26 states into a stronger share in a smaller number of markets.

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