Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Future's over on Regent

Electronics retailer one of 15 to close

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Neil Roche saw the future, and it wasn't necessarily a friend of Future Shop.

"The future is mobile and online. Big box stores can be quite wasteful," the 20-year-old Roche said, shortly after receiving a pink slip and severance pay from the Regent Avenue Future Shop that was closed on Thursday -- part of Best Buy Canada's decision to close 15 big box stores across Canada.

"It sucks that my store was the one to close," Roche said. "But they're taking care of us. It was a great place to work."

The Future Shop store on Regent Avenue was the only Winnipeg outlet affected by a wave of Future Shop/Best Buy store closures that took place early Thursday morning.

It was business as usual at the other three Future Shop oulets on St. James Street, Pembina Highway and Leila Avenue, as well as the two Best Buy stores on St. James and Regent.

Best Buy said in a statement later in the day the employees who lost their jobs will receive severance packages and be given access to employee assistance programs and career transition support. They will also be given priority in future hirings, it added.

The store closures, which represent about 10 per cent of the retailer's square footage in this country, meant layoffs for an estimated 900 employees.

"The retail landscape continues to change and our success is dependent upon our ability to evolve along with it," Mike Pratt, president of Best Buy Canada told the Financial Post.

"By taking a proactive approach in transforming our operations now, I have no doubt we will be in the best position to continue innovating our store experience for consumers and grow into the next decade."

The company, which also closed stores in British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and Ontario, said it will open a substantial, but unspecified number of smaller Future Shop web stores and new Best Buy Mobile locations over the next three years across the country.

"We believe strongly that the changes being introduced this year will enable us to optimize our retail footprint, expand into new markets and allow us to better serve our customers across the country," Pratt said.

In Winnipeg, the move caught customers and employees of the Regent Avenue store off guard.

"It's sad," said Brittany, who didn't want to give her last name. "It's a changing industry, right? There's on-line (shopping) and the Best Buy next door (at the Regent Avenue location, across from Kildonan Place mall)."

When Ryan Kuka arrived Thursday to buy a television for this grandmother, the Kenora resident simply shrugged.

"I was just here yesterday buying something," he said. "Now they're closed. Best Buy is right there, so they'll get my money."

Best Buy owns Future Shop.

The move comes almost a year after the company's embattled U.S. parent announced the closure of 50 outlets and a plan to open 100 smaller mobile stores with a greater emphasis on smart phones, tablets, and e-readers.

The U.S. division has made some headway with its restructuring strategy and shares have been climbing this month as the company faces a buyout proposal from founder and former chairman Richard Schulze.

Best Buy Co. said recently that revenue fell 0.4 per cent to $12.8-billion in the nine weeks ending Jan. 5 and oveall sales at outlets open for at least 14 months (known as same-store sales, an important retail performance metric), fell 1.4 per cent.

But the company said same-store sales fell 6.4 per cent internationally due to declines in Canada and China, while U.S. same-store sales were flat.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca -- with files by the Financial Post and Murray McNeill

sears axes 700 jobs B11

 

Best Buy, Future Shop closures across Canada

Best Buy

British Columbia

Queensborough,

Nanaimo,

Victoria,

Langford (Westshore Town Centre),

South Surrey,

Quebec

Lachenaie,

Sherbrooke (SmartCentres Sherbrooke).

 

Future Shop

Ontario

Ancaster,

Barrie South,

Erin Mills,

Quebec

Montreal (Forum Entertainment Centre),

Laval (First Pro Ste-Dorothee),

Manitoba

Regent

British Columbia

West Kelowna,

Alberta

Macleod, Calgary.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 A7

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