Best Buy's man has Britain's electricals giants in his sights

In The Spotlight: Scott Wheway

Welcome then to Best Buy, the "big box" electricals retailer which begins trading in Britain for the first time tomorrow. For Scott Wheway, chief executive of the American giant's European business, almost a year of planning will come to a head at 7.30am tomorrow, when the 45,000 square foot store in Thurrock, Essex, throws open its doors.

Eventually, Mr Wheway hopes to open more than 150 stores in the UK, offering everything from mobile phones to electric sports cars. Tomorrow, however, marks the first test of whether the business model that has been so successful in America will transplant neatly into this country.

Best Buy intends to exploit the poor reputation the British electricals sector has for service – there are no commission payments for sales staff – to encourage them to spend more time with customers.

Still, Mr Wheway's rivals are not taking Best Buy's move into the UK lying down. Currys has already opened a giant new store which is visible from the Best Buy outlet in Thurrock.

Then there is the threat from online – Best Buy's rivals reckon it has missed a trick by failing to have a website ready for customers – and the aggressive move by supermarkets, particularly Tesco, into electricals.

Mr Wheway should know a thing or two about that – he spent 20 years working for Tesco, before becoming managing director of Boots a couple of years ago. Hired to launch Best Buy in the UK in May last year, insiders describe him as "the consummate retailer".

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