Why the grim reaper of retail hasn’t come to claim Best Buy – California News

Why the grim reaper of retail hasn’t come to claim Best Buy – California News

Five years ago Best Buy Co. looked like a retail dinosaur, another victim of e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com and other online sellers.

The big-box electronics chain was suffering dwindling sales and profits due in good part to “showrooming,” when shoppers would come in to a Best Buy store to check out televisions, computers and other items in person, and then buy them at cheaper prices at Amazon or elsewhere online.

Best Buy also was struggling with executive turmoil and facing a buyout threat from a major stockholder. The chain in 2012 named a new chief executive, Hubert Joly, but the Frenchman came from the hospitality field and had no retail experience.

His appointment stunned analysts, with one saying that fixing Best Buy was “a herculean task even for an accomplished retail executive.”

But Joly has proved up to the task so far. Under his turnaround plan, Best Buy has rebounded to remain one major U.S. retailer that’s holding its own in the face of Amazon’s relentless growth and the conventional retail industry’s slump.

Best Buy “came out the other side successfully to defend itself against Amazon,” said Peter Keith, an analyst with the investment firm Piper Jaffray & Co.

As more consumers shift to online shopping, other brick-and-mortar retailers have closed thousands of stores in shopping malls and elsewhere in the last year. A few have filed for bankruptcy protection, including rival electronics chain RadioShack.

A New York City Radio Shack store in 2013. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Best Buy still operates 1,600 outlets — including 143 in California, its biggest market — and Joly views the stores as “a great asset” even as Best Buy…

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