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Best Buy to shutter all UK megastores

Dixons sent 'em packing

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Best Buy's big box experiment in Europe is over: the US retailer is set to close its megastores and retreat into Carphone Warehouse (CPW) shops.

In a joint venture with CPW launched last year, Best Buy opened 11 giant outlets in the UK, employing some 1,100 staff, all of which will be shuttered.

The battered retail sector forced Best Buy to freeze store expansion plans as losses for the joint venture tripled in the last full financial year. The JV is expected to be £35m in the red when half-year figures are released this week.

“After conducting a thorough strategic review of our operations, we believe that our capital investment and ‘connectivity’ strategy should be prioritised within our Carphone Warehouse stores as they offer a higher and proven rate of return," said Andrew Harrison, CEO of Best Buy Europe.

"The technology world has changed substantially since 2008 and we are confident we will best serve our customers by investing in a single brand and format rather than two," he added.

A spokesman for CPW told El Reg he is "confident" that the vast majority of Best Buy employees, who are today entering a 90-day consultation period and have been given another three months of notice, will be employed within the Carphone Warehouse group at its Wireless World stores.

CPW currently has 805 stores in the UK, and has converted 141 to include the Wireless World boutique. It plans to reformat between 350 and 400 stores in total by the end of its fiscal 2012 in April.

The spokesman said "fairly high attrition rates" in its High Street operation would also create positions for some of the impacted Best Buy staff.

Best Buy's delayed entry into the UK meant that it faced a collapse in consumer spending and gave arch rival Dixons time to raise the defences. ®

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