Best Buy Canada to shut 15 stores, lay off 5 pct

Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:13pm EST

* Retailer faces pressure from online competition

* Big-box stores to close, smaller outlets to open

* Best Buy now operates 260 stores in Canada

* About 900 workers to be laid off, paper says

TORONTO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Best Buy Co Inc's Canadian division will close 15 of its big-box stores across the country and lay off 5 percent of its workforce in a drive to cut costs, the consumer electronics retailer said on Thursday.

The U.S.-based company, which has been facing pressure from online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc, will close eight of its Future Shop stores and seven Best Buy branded stores out of a total of about 260 total stores across Canada.

About 5 percent of its Canadian workforce will be laid off, a company spokeswoman said in an email. The National Post newspaper pegged the total number of layoffs at 900.

"The move was based on an extensive review of Best Buy's retail footprint in Canada in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs, eliminate redundant operating systems and to optimize its real estate strategy to reflect a changing retail landscape," Best Buy said in a statement.

Most of the stores to be closed are in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, with the rest scattered through Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The company said it would open an undisclosed number of small-concept web stores and mobile locations.

Best Buy Canada has struggled against the tide of customers browsing in its showrooms, but buying online from other retailers. .