Bye Bye Best Buy UK

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 £70m loss.

I’ve visited the Hedge End (Southampton) store a few times. My initial reaction was mixed – 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 – most titles were £39.99 and a few, like Call of Duty, were £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 £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 – all purchases were being dealt with by just one person on the ‘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 ‘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. “I 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,” he said.

We wish the staff good luck in finding new lines of work.

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