Best Buy Canada expands as parent stalls

Burnaby-based Best Buy Canada opened a new store in Calgary last Friday and plans to open a new store on Ontario Street near Marine Drive ...

Burnaby-based Best Buy Canada opened a new store in Calgary last Friday and plans to open a new store on Ontario Street near Marine Drive in Vancouver in mid-November.

Once the new stores are open, the chain will have 79 Best Buy-branded stores, 47 stores branded Best Buy Mobile and 144 Future Shop stores, spokeswoman Danielle Jang told Business in Vancouver.

The openings, however, follow ominous warnings last week from its struggling parent, Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY), which sent the stock to US$14.96 on October 26 – the lowest close since November 2002.

Best Buy warned investors that earnings and same-store sales would fall in its third quarter.

Best Buy Canada told BIV last year that it employs 19,944 staff, including 4,042 in B.C., and that its sales totalled more than $5.6 billion in 2010 – enough to rank as B.C.'s second-largest private company.

It saw a second-quarter 2012 sales drop in percentage terms in the "high single-digits" compared with the same quarter a year ago, parent Best Buy Co. revealed August 21. That drop was in Best Buy Canada's Future Shop and Best Buy-branded stores and stemmed from sluggish laptop computer, digital imaging and home theatre sales.

Sales in Best Buy Co.'s international division, which also includes stores in China and Europe, fell a similar 8.2%.

Best Buy Co.'s relatively new CEO, Hubert Joly, is a former CEO of the Carlson travel company and a turnaround expert, but has no prior experience at a retail venture. He has started to restructure the company, but Jang said no structural change has yet affected Best Buy Canada, which is headed by president Mike Pratt.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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