Photo: Paul Sakuma / AP
Brian Dunn took the reins of Best Buy in June 2009 and was tasked with turning things around.He didn’t. Not even close.
“Many retailers have struggled to make the transition; some have fallen on their swords along the way,” said Larry Downes in a Forbes column that eviscerated Dunn and Best Buy. “So far, Best Buy fails on every measure.”
Yes it has. Here’s a bunch of things that happened under Dunn’s watch that didn’t work:
Dunn’s massive turnaround plan is focused on cost-cutting and isn’t a cure-all
Best Buy is in the middle of a $800 million cost-cutting plan that including the closure of 50 big box stores in the U.S., and it has gotten slammed for it, whether it’s working or not. Laura Heller at Forbes makes the most important point. Cutting costs is fine, but it’s not the real problem:
“Sometimes the bigger thing to do is go small, but a retailer still has to sell more stuff, not just jettison the people and locations that are supposed to help it do just that.”
There was a refusal to focus on customer service
Best Buy is notorious for the way it treats customers, and nothing was done to revamp its reputation. In fact, under Dunn, things were as bad as they’ve ever been.
Take the Christmas debacle for example, when Best Buy bungled its handling of a major PR crisis that alienated thousands of customers.
Best Buy’s big-box model didn’t work abroad, but Best Buy tried to make it work anyway
Best Buy opened up a bunch of big-box stores in China and Europe, but customers never warmed up to them. The result was an embarrassing decision to close most of these stores and completely change its strategy. It entered the UK in 2010, and moved its big-box stores out of the market just a few months later. If the company had done its market research, it would have known that those customers prefer smaller stores.
There’s still no reason to go to BestBuy.com
Even as customers started gravitating to Amazon, and Walmart started revamping its online strategy, Best Buy’s online pricing the same — and that completely killed its competitiveness, especially during major seasons for retailers, like the holidays.
But it’s not only about price. The back-end wasn’t adapted well enough either, and it’s completely outclassed in by Amazon in its inventory management, which again affects customer service.
He refused to change course
In a blog post that lashed out against his critics, Dunn said, “there are those who question the validity of Best Buy’s business model. This misguided perspective is especially troubling for me, because it blatantly and recklessly ignores overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
And yet, the company’s abysmal performance suggested otherwise.
He was unable to stand up to the company’s founder
Best Buy founder Richard M. Schulze runs the board (and owns 18% of the company) at Best Buy, and he did whatever he wanted throughout Dunn’s tenure.
Schulze has been described as still having “an iron grip” on Best Buy, hampering Dunn’s flexibility.
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