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Best Buy CEO: Don't count us out

March 2, 2013 at 1:24 PM   |   Comments

RICHFIELD, Minn., March 2 (UPI) -- The chief executive officer of U.S. retailer Best Buy said rumors of the store's demise were premature.

"People who thought we were dead have to go through the painful process of revisiting that point of view," said CEO Hubert Joly in an interview.

In a dramatic and critical development, Best Buy reported that U.S. same-store sales rose in the fourth quarter for the first time in more than a year, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The retailer's fourth quarter losses fell to $409 million compared to $1.82 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Profit margins fell less than expected, as the retailer has tried to align its prices and its services with competitors, including Internet retailers that have lower overhead costs and can in some places avoid state taxes, giving them a quick advantage over brick and mortar stores.

Going head-to-head with Internet stores, Best Buy's own online sales rose 11 percent in the fourth quarter, a sharp decline from its 25 percent gain in that category in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Best Buy's board has also been dealing with Richard Schulze, the company's founder who owns 20 percent of the business and is trying to take the company private.

Schulze missed a Thursday deadline to put together a credible plan for buying the company, but offered, instead, on Friday to buy a substantial block of shares.

The board turned that offer down because it thought the deal would dilute share prices, the Journal said.

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