April 15 (Reuters) - Best Buy Co Inc on Monday named Chief Financial Officer Corie Barry as the company’s chief executive officer, the first woman to lead the consumer electronics retailer in its 53-year history.
Barry, who joined Best Buy in 1999 and went on to become its finance chief in 2016, will become the company’s fifth CEO when she takes over from Hubert Joly, who will step aside to become executive chairman in June.
Barry along with Joly, a restructuring expert, turned around the struggling retailer that had been dogged by falling same-store sales and a takeover battle with founder Richard Schulze.
She has also held several operational roles in her tenure, including heading the integration of health services provider GreatCall Inc, which Best Buy bought last year for $800 million.
But much credit goes to Joly who, despite lacking a retail background, was instrumental in beefing up the company’s website, delivery options and tech support services making it a formidable force in a world increasingly dominated by Amazon.com .
Under Joly, the company has also placed emphasis on membership services like its “Geek Squad” tech support to boost margins as the importance of matching prices with online competition becomes ever more essential to keep customers visiting its stores and website.
In Joly’s near 7-year tenure as CEO, Best Buy’s same store sales have risen for the past five years, while its shares have grown four-fold.
However, after announcing the move, Best Buy’s shares fell as much as 1.2 percent in morning trading.
“Investors appreciate the amazing job Hubert has done for the last eight years and the downtick reflects some fear of change,” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said.
Incoming CEO Barry, on a call with the media, said she would continue Best Buy’s business strategy without any major shifts or leadership changes.
Joly on the call said he would continue to advise Barry on key matters such as mergers and acquisitions, as he sits right across the hall from Barry’s office in Richfield, Minnesota.
Telsey Advisory Group’s analyst Joseph Feldman said, “She is a strategic thinker who helped develop the turnaround strategy with current CEO Hubert Joly and has been at his side laying the plan for the future.”
“If ever there was a CFO suited to be CEO, it is Ms. Barry.” (Reporting by Uday Sampath and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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