With financial analysts already downgrading the company's rating, the hurried departure of Best Buy's European CEO of branded operations could be viewed as clumsy. The company has rushed to fill the management gap by appointing Carphone Warehouse boss Andrew Harrison as Best Buy Europe COO.
Best Buy created a storm of interest when it decided to enter the European mobile phone retail market with a £1.1 billion investment to acquire a 50 per cent stake in Carphone's UK and European operations in 2008. The new venture was designed to accelerate the development of Carphone Warehouse's retail proposition and to introduce Best Buy stores across Europe.
However, the departure of Best Buy's branded operations chief executive, Paul Antoniadis--just three months after launching the first stores in the UK--has raised concerns over the company's future ambitions. The company has currently only opened three Best Buy megastores out of a plan to open 80 stores across the UK over the next four years. Over 100 stores were planned across Europe.
Best Buy has denied that the departure of Antoniadis, who oversaw similar launches for the US retailer in China and Mexico in his 13 years at the company, was due to underperformance. However, observers claim Antoniadis was seen as the face of Best Buy in the UK, and his loss will be a setback.
Commenting on the situation, Best Buy CEO Scott Wheway--who has denied rumours of any friction between himself and Antoniadis--said that Harrison, who already leads the joint venture's 2,400 Carphone Warehouse stores across nine countries, would now assume additional responsibility for all Best Buy Europe brands.
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