Best Buy admits UK launch lacked impact

US electricals retailer Best Buy admits that it has failed to make the desired impact in the UK but rejects claims its UK venture is in jeopardy following the shock exit of five senior managers.

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Best Buy UK marketing director Kevin Styles and UK commercial director Harry Parmar are the latest senior managers to leave the chain.

Jeff Severts, Best Buy Europe chief marketing officer, will take responsibility for UK marketing and guide the brand’s strategy.

Severts says: “I’m not satisfied that enough people in the UK know about Best Buy or understand it with the intimacy I’d like. I’m comfortable that we have the right strategy for the UK market but there are big opportunities for consumers to better understand the brand in the UK.”

The fledgling chain has been rocked by the departures of European CEO Scott Wheway, branded operations chief Paul Antoniadis, and head of online DeVere Forster within the past six months. This has fuelled speculation that Best Buy’s European venture has fallen flat.

Best Buy UK is expected to post losses of £45m this year.

Some analysts say that Best Buy has underestimated how competitive the UK market is and that the departures indicate “conflict behind the scenes”. But others say the exits are nothing more than a restructure by a successful parent company keen to succeed in the UK.

Severts admits that to an outsider it could look like the chain’s management is unstable but he insists the business remains on course and its growth plans still stand.

He says Best Buy’s “bold and audacious” plans to open 80 UK stores remain its “end goal” but the timeframe is unspecified.

He adds that nothing has changed within the retailer’s long-term strategy or brand positioning, but it will continue to “refine and improve” its tactics.

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