Best Buy's Big British InvasionJames Thompson
The world's largest electricals retailer, Best Buy, is to create 8,000 jobs in the UK over the next five years and is gearing up to open its first stores this coming spring, taking on Currys and Comet.
Best Buy (BBY), which operates in partnership with Carphone Warehouse (CPW.L) in Europe, will open five stores in March and April next year and has already confirmed two sites in Thurrock, Essex, and Southampton. The electricals retailer plans to open about 100 stores, sized between 25,000 and 60,000 square feet, in Europe over the next three years, of which about 80 will be in the UK.
DSG International (DSGI.L), owner of Currys and PC World, and Kesa Electricals (KESA.L)-owned Comet have most to fear from Best Buy parking its tanks on their lawns, but an operation to match their scale will take years to establish.
Paul Antoniadis, the chief executive of Best Buy's branded operations, said: "We are really pleased to begin the recruitment drive for our first stores, and are looking forward to meeting the talented individuals that we hope will apply for the thousands of opportunities we plan to create across the UK."
Best Buy will enrol new staff in its "Blue Shirt Academy", which will provide them with nine weeks extensive training on the latest consumer technology. However, its preparations have not all gone swimmingly. Best Buy originally intended to launch this year, but had to delay until next year.
The retail giant has also recently overhauled its property agents. Previously, it was using Briant Champion Long, but it has now drafted in DTZ (DTZ.L) and Green & Partners.
Earlier this year, Best Buy sent out a list of sites it was interested in the UK, including London's Kensington High Street and Oxford Street. But sources said that its use of DTZ and Green & Partners suggested that its main focus was now on out-of-town retail parks, not city centres.
In May 2008, Best Buy said it would enter the UK with the £1.1bn acquisition of 50 per cent of Carphone Warehouse's retail division. As part of its partnership, Carphone Warehouse has launched stores under the Best Buy Mobile banner in the US, while Best Buy has already introduced its world-renowned Geek Squad, a home computer support service, into the UK.
Carphone Warehouse plans to split into two separately listed businesses: Talk Talk, its broadband business, and Best Buy Europe, its retail division, by March 2010.