Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2012 (Revised March 2014)

Best Buy in Crisis

by John R. Wells and Galen Danskin

Abstract

In June 2012, Best Buy was in crisis. In 1996, Best Buy overtook Circuit City as the world's leader in consumer electronics retailing; however, 18 years later, Best Buy now found this position threatened. With $51 billion in revenues, it was still the biggest CE retailer, but sales were flat and profits had collapsed. Meanwhile, Amazon's sales in Best Buy's categories were growing at more than 50% p.a. and its total sales, at $48 billion, were approaching those of Best Buy. As Wal-Mart cherry-picked popular items for steep discounts and Amazon encouraged consumers to compare prices using smart phones, Best Buy was becoming a showroom for lower cost retail models. International expansion was struggling and domestic sales of digital televisions were cooling. Although the popularity of mobile devices suggested easy growth, many devices were sold by telephone service providers, creating increased retail competition. To add to Best Buy's problems, on April 10, 2012, CEO Brian Dunn resigned after an investigation into his personal conduct. On June 7, 2012, Dick Schulze, the firm's founder, who had navigated the company through many strategic changes since 1966, also decided to leave and "explore all available options" for his 20.1% stake in the company. Best Buy had seen off many competitive challenges in the past. Would it be able to fend off these challengers and maintain its position?

Keywords: Change Management; Decision Choices and Conditions; Forecasting and Prediction; Competitive Strategy; Ethics; Management Teams; Consumer Products Industry; Electronics Industry; Retail Industry;

Citation:

Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Best Buy in Crisis ." Harvard Business School Case 713-403, June 2012. (Revised March 2014.)