(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.

Best Buy Chief Financial Officer Corie Barry. Courtesy Best Buy/Handout via REUTERS

She will become Best Buy’s fifth CEO when she takes over from Hubert Joly, who steps aside to become the executive chairman in June.

Joly, a restructuring expert, was brought in 2012 to turn around the struggling retailer that had been dogged by falling same-store sales and a takeover battle with founder Richard Schulze.

Joly’s efforts have largely been successful with the company’s shares having risen four-fold in value during his tenure.

“Nearly seven years ago the board made a stunningly good decision when they asked a Frenchman (Joly) with no retail experience to save this company. The brilliance of that choice has been proven time and again,” newly named CEO Barry said on a media call.

Joly has also been responsible for tackling competition from Amazon.com Inc and other online retailers by bolstering the company’s own website, delivery options and tech support services.

Best Buy’s total same store sales have risen for the last five years.

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.

Those better margins have also come from about $1.4 billion in cost reductions during Joly’s tenure.

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The company’s shares fell about 1 percent in late morning trading.

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Incoming CEO Barry, who joined Best Buy in 1999 and became CFO in 2016, has also played a big part in the company’s turnaround, holding several operational roles, including heading the integration of health services provider GreatCall Inc, which Best Buy bought last year for $800 million.

Barry also emphasized a continuity of Best Buy’s business strategy with no major shifts or leadership changes planned.

With Joly’s office located right across the hall from his replacement’s, he will also continue to advise Barry on key matters such as mergers and acquisitions.

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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