(Adds company comment)
By Karen Jacobs
ATLANTA Jan 21 Best Buy Co (BBY.N) Chief
Executive Brad Anderson will retire from that post in June and
be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Brian Dunn, the No. 1
U.S. consumer electronics retailer said on Wednesday.
The company said the move was part of its succession plan.
Some analysts noted that Dunn, who became president in 2006,
takes over from a widely respected CEO just as a deepening
recession tests sales.
"Like any transition there's just question marks about what
his leadership is going to look like," said Brad Thomas, an
analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets. "The big challenge right
now is running Best Buy in the consumer environment that we're
Anderson, 59, will retire as CEO on June 24. During a
conference call, he said he wants to work less and spend more
time with family.
He said Dunn, 48, was "absolutely and indisputably the
right leader" as Best Buy enters its next phase of growth.
A more-than-30-year veteran at Best Buy, Anderson has been
CEO for seven years and was only the second person to take the
top job after company founder Richard Schulze.
Under his leadership, Best Buy launched a program to focus
more intently on consumer needs and moved into international
markets. Best Buy, for example, announced a joint venture with
Britain's Carphone Warehouse CPW.L last year to expand into
Anderson "has been a visionary, shepherded the rise of Best
Buy as the industry leader and the demise of (its) biggest
competitor," J.P. Morgan analyst Christopher Horvers said in a
Best Buy's smaller, bankrupt rival Circuit City Stores Inc
CCTYQ.PK began liquidating its assets last week and is
closing hundreds of U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer.
Horvers said the customer centricity program has helped
Best Buy stand out as discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores
(WMT.N) and warehouse clubs expand into electronics.
Analysts expect Circuit City's failure will benefit Best
Buy's market share over the longer term and allow it to gain
more clout with suppliers.
COURTING NEW CUSTOMERS
Dunn, a skilled operator who is highly regarded internally,
said Best Buy would court new customers world-wide.
"We're not going to get beat on price," Dunn told Reuters
in an interview. "The consumer is more acutely focused on value
right now and you will find us right there with them and we
Dunn started working at Best Buy in 1985 and worked his way
up to store manager and district manager before becoming
president of North American retail in 2004. The U.S. stores,
Geek Squad technical service, and company marketing, customer
experience and merchant functions report to him.
"The next phase for Best Buy will play to some of Brian's
strengths in terms of what is (the company's) role going to
look like in the U.S. now that Circuit City is going away,"
said Thomas, the KeyBanc analyst.
Best Buy shares closed up 8 cents to $27.31 on the New York
Stock Exchange after trading as low as $26.31 earlier in the
(Additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman and Nicole Maestri
in New York; Editing by Dave Zimmerman, Brian Moss, Leslie