Best Buy opens first British shop but postpones website launch

Arrival of US electricals superstore chain forces competitor Currys to raise its game

The world's largest electricals retailer, Best Buy, will open its first UK store in Essex to a fanfare tomorrow, but consumers will have to wait until the autumn to buy anything online.

Best Buy had originally intended to introduce e-commerce at the time of opening its first tranche of UK stores this spring in order to maximise the impact of its launch.

But a Best Buy spokeswoman yesterday said: "We want to make sure our online store is comprehensively tested and meets our exacting standards. It will launch later in the year."

She added that when it launches its transactional website in the autumn, "customers across the UK will be able to receive deliveries from Best Buy".

Given that Best Buy will only have five stores in the UK by the autumn, the delay in launching e-commerce will not make a significant difference to its revenues over the coming year.

But transactional websites are a critical weapon in the armoury of all UK electricals retailers, and Best Buy will not want any further delays, as there is an inexorable shift of sales on to the internet.

The European electricals group DSGi, which owns Currys and PC World in the UK, said that online sales currently account for between 12 per cent and 15 per cent of total sales and its internet sales passed £1bn in 2008. Other electricals rivals Comet, Argos and Tesco already have bulging online sales.

The first Best Buy UK store, a 50,000 sq ft big-box in Thurrock, Essex, is one of the most eagerly-anticipated launches in recent years. The store will sell a smorgasbord of electricals products, from 3D-TVs to electric cars, in its green technology section.

The US giant first announced its intention to enter the UK market with the £1.1bn acquisition of 50 per cent of Carphone Warehouse's retail division in May 2008. In addition to Thurrock, Best Buy has confirmed five sites. The next two, in Hedge End, Southampton, and Merry Hill, West Midlands, will open in June, followed by another in Aintree, Liverpool, and Croydon, Surrey, in the autumn.

It will also launch in Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, in spring 2011, as part of up to 10 in its first year. But questions have been raised about whether Best Buy will hit its target of up to 80 UK stores by 2013, given that this implies a run rate of opening more than 20 a year.

Kate Calvert, the analyst at Shore Capital, said: "It is quite clear they are struggling to get sites. Quality sites are not readily available in the UK."

Best Buy will focus heavily on customer service, both in-store and remotely through its existing 24-hour home computer support service, Geek Squad.

As Best Buy gave its rivals two years to prepare for its assault on the UK, Currys and Comet have been able to up their game. For instance, DSGi has stepped up its roll-out of Currys megastores, as well as combined Currys and PC World branches, and invested in customer service. Last month, DSGi said it would open 25 new "megastores" by Christmas. In fact, Currys has opened one just 100 metres from the Best Buy shop at Thurrock. DSGi has also invested in staff training as part of its renewal and transformation plan. Best Buy plans to recruit up to 8,000 people over the next five years, most of whom will make up its "blue shirt" in-store team. The staff will receive a nine-week training programme at the "Blue Shirt Academy", including a focus on product knowledge and customer service.

But industry experts believe the impact of Best Buy in the UK will not be significant for a number of years.

Ms Calvert said: "Until we have seen what the full Best Buy proposition will be in terms of other stores, the website and how it will be integrated with stores, pricing and promotional activity, we will not know what the impact will be on the market."

Following its demerger from its Talk Talk broadband division last month, Carphone Warehouse now has a 50 per cent stake in Best Buy Europe, which includes the Best Buy, Carphone Warehouse and The Phone House branded stores in the UK and Europe, and Carphone's mobile phone shops in Best Buy's US stores.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices