Best Buy to shut UK megastores amid poor consumer uptake

After a three-year joint partnership between the U.S. electrical chain and the UK's leading mobile phone retailer, Best Buy is to shut its stores on the British mainland.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

British mobile phone retail giant Carphone Warehouse is to close its eleven Best Buy stores it opened in the United Kingdom over the past year.

Best Buy joined forces with the Carphone Warehouse, a UK-based mobile phone retailer, to bring the U.S. chain of stores to the British mainland. But difficult economic times and a lack of consumer interest has said to been the cause behind the British rejection.

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During Tuesday's half-year fiscal report, it is expected that the Carphone Warehouse chief executive Charles Dunstone will announce further losses, thought to be in the region of £35 million ($56 million).

Having already suffered a loss of £83 million ($133 million), negotiations have said to have continued through the weekend to save the partnership, with those thought to have been unsuccessful.

Best Buy had invested £1.1 billion in the UK mobile phone retailer in 2008 as a first step towards a European rollout of the U.S. brand. With prime locations in Bristol, Rotherham and a major store at Lakeside, Essex, along with three stores within the boroughs of London, Best Buy has over 1,300 stores worldwide.

The company had planned to launch over 200 stores across Europe by the end of 2013, not before announcing plans to scale back that figure to just half that number.

According to Reuters, the news will be reported on Monday, with Best Buy agreeing to buy out its British phone retail partner for over $1 billion. A person with knowledge of the deal said that the Carphone Warehouse would return a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a share in profits of Best Buy Mobile back to its shareholders.

The Sunday Times newspaper reports that it "will not be the end of the Best Buy brand in the UK" however, with "mini" stores within existing Carphone Warehouse retail stores selling electrical goods.

The Guardian report that more than 1,000 jobs could be at risk by Christmas as a result of the closure.

Both the Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy were unavailable for comment.


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