Best Buy: 'We Will Do Better' to Survive Turbulent Times
Declaring "we will do better," Best Buy Inc's interim CEO on Thursday charted a new course for the Richfield-based big box retailer, pledging at the annual shareholders meeting that streamlining and retraining are underway and promising that, "there are no sacred cows," as the company tries to become more nimble in a rapidly-changing marketplace.
"We can no longer just focus on the box," Mike Mikan told several hundred people gathered in the theater at the company's headquarters.
While acknowledging, "we don't have all the answers today," Mikan said 50,000 employees would start receiving new training in August, customers service and relationships would be improved and strengthened, and it would shrink its total square footage, all in an effort to return more value to investors.
The company announced it will raise its dividend by a penny per share just before the meeting.
Several hundred people attended the shareholders meeting, which lasted about an hour.
Chairman Hatim Tyabji began the meeting by paying tribute to founder Richard Schulze, who stepped down suddenly as chairman earlier this year, and who analysts believe may be considering a bid to buy the company.
Schulze, 71, remains the company's largest shareholder. He was not seen at Thursday's meeting.
Tyabji praised Schulze for his "hard work, leadership, and vision... We want to thank and honor him for his enormous contribution to the company."
Tyabji then declared, "it has been a challenging few months for the company," and said "difficult decisions were made," to change the company's direction going forward.
Mikan took time to address a growing concern for the company, so-called "showrooming," where consumers use Best Buy's stores merely as a showroom and then later buy the product elsewhere online, where free shipping and lower taxes may be available.
Mikan said that beginning in August and ending before the holiday season, employees in the U.S. would undergo "extensive" training to build a deeper connection with customers, sharing expertise not found at online retailers and hoping those relationships would stem the tide of "showrooming."
In response to a shareholder who declared last holiday season a "fiasco," when customers ordered products at BestBuy.com only to learn weeks later the items would not arrive in time, Mikan admitted the company "fell down last year," and promised "it won't happen again."