When Hubert Joly took over the reins at Best Buy in 2012, the chain was being battered by Amazon.com and other internet merchants. Consumers were using its stores (and Toys “R” Us, Sports Authority, Barnes & Noble and others) as showrooms. They would touch and feel the merchandise, play with it, compare brands side by side and once the purchasing decision was made, go home and buy the item online.
Many thought Joly’s was a quixotic assignment at best. Fast forward to 2019, as Joly is ready to step aside in favor of Corie Barry, a long-time Best Buy employee who was most recently chief financial officer. In his years at Best Buy, Joly made sure merchandise was competitively priced, used the stores as fulfillment centers for the company’s own online sales — not showrooms for online competitors — and introduced services such as speedier shipping times. Along the way, he enhanced technical support and made in-home advisors available to help customers make better use of their electronics purchases.
Joly also invested in stores, raising the technical knowledge of associates and introducing branded mini-departments where shoppers can get all the information they want before making an expensive purchase. Among the achievements Barry is inheriting from Joly is five straight years of comparable sales increases. In the most recently completed fiscal year, The Wall Street Journal said the company’s financial performance has “become so consistently, predictably good, it’s almost boring.”
“All of our channels are growing,” Joly says. “We continue to see a favorable consumer environment.”
Among the projects boosting optimism is Best Buy’s foray into health care, partnering with managed care group to provide health-monitoring services for patients with chronic conditions. The company has also been testing the rental of some electronics for people unable to purchase them outright.