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2016 Newsmakers of the Year: Big Blue’s Big Green

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Best Buy in 2016.

The year started off rocky, with the chain projecting flat sales for the year.

Action was taken as jobs were cut in the Minneapolis headquarters and Best Buy suspended sales from its online third party dealers.

But the chain also remained proactive, adding personnel and investment to its web operations and revamped its strategic planning.

By the time it’s 50th birthday came around in August, Best Buy had said goodbye to its chief turnaround expert, CFO Sharon McCollam, who stepped down saying the chain was back on the path to good health.

In an effort to boost alternative revenue streams the chain added a free in-home advice program to work hand-in-hand with the company’s Best Buy’s Geek Squad repair and installation team.

Despite being burned (pun intended) by recalls of Samsung top-load washers and overheating Galaxy 7 products, the chain posted a strong Q3 financial, a good omen for the upcoming holiday selling season.

In addition, Best Buy’s relationship with Sony grew stronger when Sony rolled out its high-res audio listening stations in more than 300 locations throughout the country.

After leading Best Buy through five holiday seasons, chairman/CEO Hubert Joly was feeling confident about Christmas, and told the local newspaper that he foresees a time when CE retail will be controlled by Best Buy and Amazon.

But Joly maintained the caution that has been the hallmark of the chain’s turnaround, cutting ad spending by 50 percent year-over-year for the Black November period. The chain did up it’s digital advertising budget in a corresponding move.

As 2017 rolls around, Best Buy’s five-year turnaround plan seems to have come to fruition, despite the usual rollercoaster ride of running a major big-box chain.

It looks like a Happy New Year indeed for Joly and Big Blue.

See the rest of the 2016 Newsmakers of the Year.