Bye-bye for Best Buy UK? Big box chain to close, says report

Michael French
Best Buy - is the party over?

After a stop-start beginning and growing losses, Best Buy UK's chain of 11 stores is likely to close says The Sunday Times.

But the brand may live on - with Carphone Warehouse stores turned into 'mini' Best Buys.

A report in the Sunday paper said that parent Carphone could make the announcement as soon as Tuesday in the firm's half-year results. The news comes two weeks after the paper said that closure was on the cards.

Carphone partnered with US retail giant Best Buy to bring its big-box electrical and entertainment retailer to the UK.

Originally, the stores were to open in 2009 with up to 200 outlets expected, but delays meant the first UK Best Buys didn't start trading until 2010.

The first store, in Thurrock, promised good things - it was the most successful opening weekend for any Best Buy globally. Since the April 2010 first store, 10 more branches opened in Croydon, Southampton, Westfield Merry Hill, Aintree, Derby, Hayes, Cribbs Causeway, Rotheram, Enfield and Nottingham.

Best Buy championed a more experiential approach to retailing entertainment goods, encouraging consumers to try products out.  

But in just a year, says a report on Pocket-Lint, "the shops have racked up losses of £83 million. A further half-year loss of £35 million is expected to be announced this week".

There was other upheavals behind the scenes - entertainment boss Marc Spence, who oversaw games, quit less than a year into the job in February this year. At the same time chief executive Scott Wheway stepped down to be replaced by Carphone Warehouse veteran Andrew Harrison. Marketing director Kevin Styles and commercial director Harry Parmar also left.

Today's Sunday Times claimed that "negotiations continued this weekend, although sources said plans for the closure could be announced as early as Tuesday".

A spokesman is quoted as saying: "We always said we would open 11 stores and then conduct a strategy review. We are now conducting our evaluation with our partners and will provide an update in due course."

The Times gives little extra away about how the brand will survive, except to reiterate that Carphone Warehouse stores could be turned into 'mini' Best Buys - something which was originally thought to be part of the Best Buy UK rollout.

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Tags: best buy , carphone warehouse

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