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Best Buy Restructures Entertainment Business

Minneapolis — Best Buy has reorganized its U.S. entertainment business by placing it under the auspices of executive VP Shari Ballard as it prepares to expand its digital download offering.

Ballard presently honchos the company’s legal, human resources and international call center functions, as well as its U.S. Web sites. By bringing entertainment and multichannel capabilities together under one executive, the company hopes to improve its ability to “solve customer and business challenges as entertainment content continues to migrate toward digital delivery,” the retailer said.

Industry observers expect the No. 1 CE specialty chain to soon add a movie download service to its current digital music offering.

Ballard now supersedes Gary Arnold, formerly senior VP of Best Buy’s U.S. entertainment business, which includes movie, music, gaming and PC software and video game hardware. Arnold, who helped secure such Best Buy exclusives as the Rolling Stones’ “Four Flicks” and “Biggest Bang” concert DVD rollouts, has been named to the new role of senior entertainment officer, reporting to Ballard and Barry Judge, marketing senior VP. In his new position, Arnold will focus on developing exclusive offers, tour sponsorships and content distribution opportunities worldwide.

Ballard is expected to name a new point person to head the entertainment business in the near future. She herself reports to Brian Dunn, president/COO, for the U.S. entertainment business, and to CEO Brad Anderson for multichannel and human resources.

Ballard joined Best Buy in 1993 as an assistant store manager and served as general manager of a store in Flint, Mich., before moving to human resources in 1997. She was named human resources and legal executive VP in 2004, and in 2006 her work expanded to include the U.S. Web sites and call centers.

“Shari is a talented leader who understands the need to deepen our relationships with those who are most important to us — our employees and our customers,” Dunn said. “She excels at motivating employees, encouraging quick-cycle experiments, and building networks inside and outside the company. Her passion and willingness to experiment will be critically important as we explore how to use employee and customer insights to deliver individualized entertainment experiences for customers.”

Best Buy’s U.S. entertainment business, which it describes as “organized around market strategies and customer solutions,” accounted for 18 percent of company revenue during its last fiscal year.