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Best Buy names Carlson's Hubert Joly its new chief executive

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Carlson, the parent of Radisson and T.G.I. Friday's, will take on the task of saving struggling electronics retailer Best Buy.

August 21, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • Best Buy's new chief executive, Hubert Joly, is a native of France who is also a knight in the French National Order of Merit.
Best Buy's new chief executive, Hubert Joly, is a native of France… (Kalpak Pathak, Hindustan…)

Best Buy Co. named a new chief executive Monday, proclaiming Hubert Joly — former CEO of Radisson and T.G.I. Friday's parent Carlson — as the best bet to save the beleaguered electronics retailer.

Best Buy has struggled in recent months. Sales have steadily fallen amid competition with online rivals such as Amazon.com Inc. A scandal forced out former Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn as well as chairman and co-founder Richard Schulze. Schulze is now fighting to acquire the Richfield, Minn., retailer 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.

Joly had headed Carlson, a Minneapolis hospitality and travel company that owns roughly 2,200 hotels and restaurants, since 2008. He resigned to take the Best Buy post and will be replaced at Carlson 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 chief executive 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 an "inappropriate relationship" with a 29-year-old female employee. Mikan will become chairman of the board of directors' audit committee.

This won't be the first time that Joly has been hired to improve a struggling business. Earlier in his career, he reworked Vivendi's video game business before it became part of Activision Blizzard Inc. and also helped boost information technology services company Electronic Data Systems Corp. before it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard Co.

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. In March, the electronics retailer laid out plans to open smaller-format stores and revamped superstores that are 20% smaller.

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" in exchange for access to "non-public financial information and the ability to form an investor group."

Schulze, however, declined the offer, according to Best Buy.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

Times staff writer Shan Li contributed to this report.

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