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Joly Waxes Philosophic On Best Buy, CE And Retailing

12/15/2013 07:00:00 PM Eastern

MINNEAPOLIS – The last 12 months could have crushed a lesser chief executive.

But over that time Best Buy president/CEO Hubert Joly managed to fend off a takeover attempt, learn a new industry, and return the CE colossus to growth and profitability, all with his characteristic grace and aplomb.

Now a year and a half into the job, our Newsmaker of the Year took time out from a hectic holiday-season schedule to reflect on his early impressions in an email exchange with TWICE.

TWICE: What have you found most surprising about Best Buy?

Hubert Joly: At the time I joined the company, what surprised me was the number of critics who were talking about the death of Best Buy. As I looked at the organization, I was amazed by the assets – strong traffic levels, great stores, the 10th largest retail website in the country, a large and loyal customer base and an unmatched product assortment.

I was also delighted by the spirit, passion and strong foundation of this great company and its 140,000 employees. Their commitment to this organization and more importantly, to serving our customers, is incredible.

TWICE: Will there always be a need for brick-and-mortar retail stores?

Joly: The future of retail is all about clicks and bricks. The customer shopping journey involves both the online and physical stores, not one or the other. Many of our customers start with researching online at BestBuy.com and [it] results in a purchase or pick-up in-store. Other customers visit our stores to explore, touch, feel and discover their various options and then go home and buy online.

Our goal is to be the preferred authority and destination for our customers’ technology products and services – by offering them options of how, when and where they shop.

TWICE: If you could change one thing about the consumer electronics industry, what would that be?

Joly: I wouldn’t change a thing – we love this dynamic and fast-growing industry. The continuous flow of innovation and new products has created an environment of change and growing complexity that can only help reinforce the value of Best Buy to the customer.

At the core of our transformation is the laser focus on how we can best serve the customer in this context, based on competitive pricing and great service across channels.