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Best Buy Planning Radical Store Remodel: Report

6/16/2009 03:52:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis — Best Buy is planning to radically alter its store layout to emphasize services and test new product categories.

According to Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter, Best Buy will move its Geek Squad stations to the center of the sales floor and surround them with room vignettes that demonstrate the capabilities of converged products.

The new store model could also accommodate new product categories that are currently being tested, including exercise equipment, musical instruments and possibly used videos, Balter wrote in a research note based on discussions with management.

The company is also re-evaluating its current space allocations, he said.

The new store design underscores Best Buy’s intention to emphasize service- and subscription-based revenue, Balter noted, as reflected in its recent investments in Napster and a venture fund called Fuse that will bankroll the development of digital content applications.

“We have become a service business that has retail stores, not a retailer that provides service,” he quoted Bob Willett, CEO of Best Buy International and former chief information officer.

Making the company an "enabler of connected digital solutions" through its Geek Squad and Best Buy Mobile platforms was one of four strategic priorities cited by CEO-elect Brian Dunn during a first-quarter earnings call on Monday.

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