After opening 11 stores in the last two years, it has announced that all of the Best Buy UK stores will closed by the end of the year flowing a reported Â£70m loss.
I’ve visited the Hedge End (Southampton) store a few times. My initial reaction was mixed â€“ the store was well staffed, with people often asking if you need any help, and also well stocked. The videogame section contained pre-owned games (mostly made up of Ubisoft titles, oddly) as well as new and I was also impressed with their range of CDs.
The prices though were far from brilliant â€“ most titles were Â£39.99 and a few, like Call of Duty, were Â£44.99. Pretty much all of their games could be found cheaper at the Sainsbury’s opposite the store or at the newly opened PC World / Currys combo store also situated on the same retail park.
The next visit was more positive. Prices had fallen a little and they’d introduced weekly specials. I can recall picking up the rare DS RPG Rhapsody for Â£4.99, and also an official Rock Band microphone for the same price.
After the last visit though I should have seen the end of Best Buy UK coming. You could count the number of staff on one hand. In fact, the checkouts were unmanned â€“ all purchases were being dealt with by just one person on the â€˜returns’ desk. There was nobody on the door to greet customers and while picking out a new PC monitor there was no sign of anybody to ask for assistance. Part of the store was empty too, adding to the â€˜ghost town’ vibe.
You do have to wonder who thought that setting up a chain of electrical stores during a recession was a good idea. Indeed, even when plans for a UK rollout were announced HMV CEO Simon Fox questioned whether Best Buy would stand a chance. â€œI have been an electrical retailer and in my experience the British public doesn’t want to travel to out-of-town parks to purchase their CD requirements,â€ he said.
We wish the staff good luck in finding new lines of work.