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Best Buy Beefs Up Int’l. Team

Minneapolis — Best Buy announced three executive changes designed to bolster management of its expanding global operations.

Robert Willett, who has held the dual roles of chief information officer and CEO of Best Buy International since 2004, is handing off his CIO duties to Neville Roberts. Roberts joined Best Buy in January 2008 as CIO of Best Buy International and will continue to report to Willett.

Also reporting to Willett is Scott Wheway, who has joined the international unit as COO. A 20-year veteran of Tesco, the world’s fourth-largest retailer, and formerly managing director of a U.K.-based health and beauty chain,  Wheway will oversee operations in Canada, China, Mexico, Turkey and in Europe through its joint venture with The Carphone Warehouse, including  marketing, customer experience and retail operations.

Reporting to Wheway is Sean Skelley, who was appointed to the newly created post of president, international retail operations. Skelley, who joined Best Buy in 1988, led the acquisition and rollout of Geek Squad, and most recently served as chief of Best Buy’s services business group.

 In his new role, Skelley will head retail operations in Canada, China, Mexico and Turkey, and will lead Best Buy’s multichannel development in Europe through its partnership with The Carphone Warehouse.

Separately, the company has added a selection of backyard items including lawn furniture, grills and outdoor A/V to its Web site under a new sub-category called Outdoor Living. The assortment, which includes a pair of Insignia outdoor rock speakers for $100 and a solid wood pergola for $5,700, joins musical instruments and electric motorbikes as the retailer’s latest test of new product categories.

Lawn & garden has proven to be a successful, high-margin adjunct for regional and independent dealers such as Conn’s, who carry rider mowers and outdoor grills in addition to more traditional appliance and electronics fare.