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Best Buy Plans To Continue U.S. Expansion

2/25/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Best Buy's plans for new stores and programs will continue unabated this year despite a downturn in business during its fiscal fourth quarter.

Those plans call for opening upward of 100 new U.S. stores during its 2009 fiscal year, which begins March 1; extending its Best Buy Mobile wireless departments to the majority of its U.S. locations over the next 18 months; establishing Apple departments in a total of 600 stores; and opening 10 additional Pacific Sales Kitchen and Bath Center locations.

The company will also redesign its stores by resetting the GPS area and adding gaming and music elements to the center of the selling floor, will "enhance" its Web site and Reward Zone loyalty program, and will test several new product categories this year.

"Our optimism and our point of view about the future have not changed, and we continue to operate our business with a long-term perspective," said Jim Muehlbauer, Best Buy's interim chief financial officer.

Of the 85 to 100 planned store additions and four relocations, Best Buy estimates that approximately 75 percent will be in the 30,000-square-foot format, 20 percent will be in the 45,000-square-foot format, and the balance will be in the 20,000-square-foot format. Most of the new stores will likely appear in markets where Best Buy already has an established presence, the company said, and are scheduled to open periodically throughout the first three fiscal quarters, in time for the holiday selling season.

The store expansion plans are expected to create more than 12,000 new retail management, sales and services jobs, Best Buy said, bringing its worldwide employee roster to more than 150,000 by the end of fiscal 2009.

Best Buy said that despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, it improved customer satisfaction and grew market share in key categories including home theater and gaming. It also achieved No. 1 retail market share in consumer laptops.

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