Best Buy to close more of its stores

MINNEAPOLIS — Faced with a stubborn slide in sales at its U.S. stores, Best Buy Co. Inc. on Thursday announced its steepest round of cuts: closure of 50 big box stores and elimination of 400 positions at its corporate headquarters in Richfield, Minn. Officials did not reveal which stores are on the chopping block.

The company also didn't disclose how many store employees will lose their jobs, but that number likely will be in the thousands since each store employs roughly 100 workers, including so-called Blue Shirts and Geek Squad technicians.

Best Buy, once known as the undisputed discount king of consumer electronics, has been struggling to find its place in a world dominated by flashy high-end brand temples such as Apple Stores and low-cost Internet retailers such as Amazon. Customers have been increasingly migrating online where they often find better deals, forcing Best Buy to figure out a reason why shoppers would need to visit an actual store.

Last year, Best Buy lost a staggering $1.2 billion as it deeply discounted merchandise to keep pace with rivals Amazon and Walmart.

All in all, Best Buy hopes to shed $800 million over the next three years, savings the company plans to use to fund its new "connected" store remodels, international expansion and digital services. But even CEO Brian Dunn admits the company's efforts to remake itself are fraught with frustration and uncertainty. "I'm not satisfied," Dunn said. "We have a long (history) of transforming ourselves to be where the customers need to be," he said. However, "I need more information."

For example, the company plans to reduce its retail square footage in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and San Antonio by 20 percent this year.

Instead, Best Buy will remodel its big box stores with smaller "connected stores" that focus more on high-level service.

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