By Tiffany Hsu
8:35 AM PDT, August 20, 2012
Best Buy Co. named a new chief executive Monday, proclaiming Hubert Joly -- the current head of Radisson and T.G.I. Friday’s parent Carlson -- as the best bet to save the beleaguered electronics retailer.
Minnesota-based Best Buy has struggled in recent months. Sales have steadily fallen amid competition with online rivals such as Amazon.com. A scandal forced out former CEO Brian Dunn as well as chairman and founder Richard Schulze, though Schulze is now fighting to acquire Best Buy and take it private.
Joly is stepping in “at a critical moment, stabilizing the company while making considerable progress on a comprehensive plan to return Best Buy to sustained, profitable growth,” the company said in its announcement.
Since 2008, Joly has headed up Minnesota-based hospitality and travel company Carlson, which owns roughly 2,200 hotels and restaurants. He resigned to take the Best Buy post and will be replaced by chief financial officer Trudy Rautio, who will be the company’s fifth CEO in 74 years.
Once Joly arrives at Best Buy in early September, he will become the retailer’s third head honcho in six months. Joly, a native of France who is also a knight in the French National Order of Merit, is awaiting a visa.
He will succeed G. Mike Mikan, a board member who has served as Best Buy’s interim CEO since April, when Dunn stepped down amid an internal probe into his relationship with a female employee. Mikan will become the chairman of the retailer’s Audit Committee.
This won’t be the first time Joly has been tapped to improve a floundering business. Earlier in his career, he reworked Vivendi’s video game business before it became part of Activision Blizzard and also helped boost information technology services company EDS before it was acquired by HP.
Best Buy, in its announcement, touted Joly’s “expertise in turnaround and growth.”
Such know-how will be key as Best Buy girds for more cost cutting and store reworkings and closures.
On Sunday, the company said its board offered to allow Schulze to conduct due diligence in his bid to purchase Best Buy. But board members included a condition in which Schulze would “agree to certain protections for Best Buy and its shareholders, with the goal of limiting outside distractions.”
Schulze, however, declined the proposal, according to Best Buy.
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