Crunch time for Best Buy’s UK venture

Steve Dinneen
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THE fate of 11 giant out of town stores owned by Best Buy and Carphone Warehouse is close to being decided, with a sale or closure the most likely outcome.

The joint venture partners this summer froze the planned opening of a string of new stores and launched a review into the existing ones after they recorded a greater than expected loss in their first year.

Best Buy and Carphone, who each own 50 per cent of the venture, are said to be thrashing out the details, having previously said they want the issue tied up this autumn.

It is understood US-based Best Buy is biding its time to get a fuller picture of the performance of its native operations before making a final decision on the venture.

It is unlikely a rival would be willing to buy the entire portfolio of stores given the choppy economic climate but an individual sale of the most viable units is on the cards, with the remainder likely to be shuttered.

Another option being considered is a downsizing of the existing stores, mirroring the tactics of Best Buy in the US, where there has been a dip in demand for flatscreen TVs and desktop PCs.

Regardless of the future of the big box stores, Carphone and Best Buy will continue their successful partnership in the US, where a string of mobile phone concession stalls have seen revenues surge.