Best Buy Hires New CEO, Raises Stakes in Fight With Founder

In its ongoing fight for survival, the world’s largest electronics retailer is not only trying to disown its father and spurn his advances, but it is also trying to develop a turnaround strategy to boost its sagging sales.

To do that, Best Buy’s board fired off a press release this weekend — essentially stone-walling founder and top-shareholder Richard Schulze’s cash offer for $24-26/share — and hastily cut off negotiations before turning around this morning and announcing it has hired a new CEO “with expertise inturnaround and growth across the media, technology, and service sectors.”

What’s interesting is the new guy, 53-year-old Hubert Joly, was running privately-owned hotel and restaurant operator Carlson, which just happens to be based about 15 miles up Highway 494 in Minnetonka.

Even though French by birth, Joly is no stranger to the Twin Cities, having worked there for the past eight years. But as Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, his only direct experience in the retail business appears to be four years of service on the board of Ralph Lauren (RL). Other stops on Joly’s resume include stints at McKinsey & Company, the former EDS, and Vivideni’s video game unit.

All of which is wonderful but has caused more than one observer to wonder what magical fix thishotel and restaurant operator will bring to the beleaguered big box electronics reality that is Best Buy.

What is clear, is that the current board does not see a way forward with Richard Schulze or as a private company. And the timing of their hiring announcement (coming just one day before its second quarter earnings are released) will push back the board and new CEO’s comeback plans for at least a couple of months, giving current shareholders all the incentive they need to run for the exits.

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