Best Buy to withdraw from UK

Best Buy Europe is to close its 11 UK large format stores following a comprehensive strategic review designed to “eliminate Best Buy UK losses”.

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The company, a joint venture between Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy, will now focus on its “Connected World multi-channel strategy” through Carphone high street stores and online.

It plans to have more than 400 Carphone Warehouse stores offering a wider tech product range by the end of 2012. Best Buy Europe will continue to be led by Andrew Harrison.

The company says the “big box” stores delivered “exceptional customer satisfaction scores” but do not have the national reach to “achieve scale and brand economies”.

The stores are expected to close by the end of the year. Best Buy opened its first UK stores in March 2010 with intentions to open 100 of its “big box” stores to take on established UK electricals retailers Dixons and Comet.

Marketing activity focussed around in-store events and local activity to drive interest in the stores, but Best Buy also launched a customer magazine and digital initiatives such as mobile commerce.

Best Buy Europe expects the UK business to lose £25m-£30m until the operations close. It posted losses of £62m in the year ended 31 March 2011 and £47m in the 6 months to 30 September 2011.

Outside the UK, Carphone and Best Buy will launch a new partnership called “Global Connect” to “replicate the success” of Best Buy Mobile in other regions around the world.

The company says the moves “simplify and improve” the joint arrangement between it and Best Buy and “optimise” store formats, product ranges and the services they can offer globally.

Carphone Warehouse will also dispose of its interest in Best Buy Mobile US and Canada.

Roger Taylor, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, says: “We have undertaken a comprehensive strategic review. Our overall vision remains the same: to inspire and guide customers through the Connected World and the increasingly complex areas of technology that this represents. We intend to pursue this vision on an increasingly global basis.

The cost of closing the business is expected to be between £65 and £75m after tax.

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