Best Buy: Sustainability amidst turmoil

Best Buy has made headlines this year, and not the kind that any company wants:

Best Buy Cutting 50 Stores to Get Profitable. Good luck with that. (Forbes)

Best Buy CEO Resigns Under Cloud (Minneapolis StarTribune)

Best Buy Suffers For Lack of a Plan (New York Times)

Best Buy in Turmoil: Will It Survive? (Forbes, again)

Best Buy is losing market share to Amazon, its stock is down by 25 percent since the beginning of year (while the S&P 500 is up by 15 percent) and the company’s  founder Richard Schulze stepped down as chairman because he failed to tell the board about allegations that then-CEO Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. Now Schulze wants to take the company private, maybe with money from Qatar. It’s more than enough to paralyze an organization or, at a minimum, distract everyone.

So how are the company’s sustainability efforts going? As it turns out…very well. [click to continue…]

Thanksgiving shopping madness

Do we really need to start the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving night?

Here’s a comment that showed up yesterday on an April 2011 blog post [Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn: Sustainability is all about people] that I wrote praising Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn:

Brian Dunn, what a thoughtful and caring person he likes to portray himself. As a current employee, I have to join my fellow employees in cutting our Thanksgiving time short because we are opening at mid night. Brian Dunn isn’t going to be working in a store for 14 hours straight. Correction, I get a measly 30 minute break somewhere in that 14 hours. On a regular work day, I work for 7 hours straight without a required lunch because my shift has to be longer than 7 hours to take a lunch. They don’t even let me break away unless it’s completely empty in my department (which is rarely the case). Best Buy also keeps diminishing the value of the employee discount, which is one of the best parts of working for them. Eventually, there may not be a discount. If Best Buy keeps making knee-jerk reactions like opening at Midnight on Thanksgiving day, there may not be a Best Buy down the road. Customers and Employees want to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving day!

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Valerie Brunmeier of San Jose plans a festive feast for her family on Thanksgiving, but two of her sons will have to hustle off to their retail jobs at local malls later that night.

“How do you relax when you know you’re heading out the door at 10 p.m. or so to go to work, and work all night long?” she said.

…Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Gap, Walmart, Toys R Us and Macy’s are among the major retailers that plan to fling open their doors early this season. Some stores plan to open at 8 or 9 p.m. Thursday, while others will open a few hours later at the stroke of midnight, trying to jump-start sales amid an uncertain economic climate.

It’s an arms race, of sorts, and the losers are the thousands of workers who have to cut their holiday short.

The backlash against Thanksgiving night openings began with petitions aimed at Target on Facebook and [click to continue…]

Best Buy CEO: Sustainability is all about people

Best Buy’s in a tough business. The electronics giant ($50 billion in revenues in 2010) competes with Amazon, the best of the online retailers, and Walmart, the world’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer. The company’s shares have fallen lately.

What’s Best Buy’s competitive advantage?

It’s the people in the blue shirts, says Brian Dunn, Best Buy’s chief executive. “Our business is utterly dependent upon getting those 180,000 people aligned and moving forward,” he says.

This is why sustainability is important to Best Buy, the 51-year-old chief executive says. It’s about providing those people with opportunities, making sure they are heard and showing them that Best Buy cares about them and their values.

Brian gave the keynote speech this morning at the Boston College Corporate Citizenship Conference, which is being held in Minneapolis, Best Buy’s home town. We spoke briefly after his talk, which wasn’t your typical speech about sustainability or corporate responsibility. I don’t believe he mentioned the words “carbon footprint.” Instead he talked, in a personal way, about Best Buy’s people, their  aspirations, how they connect to sustainability and how he connects to them. [click to continue…]

A bold–and green–idea from Best Buy

Imagine that, instead of buying a TV, laptop  or mobile phone, and worrying that it will become outmoded, you could lease it, knowing that you could easily upgrade to the next new thing.

We’re not there yet, but Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer, with nearly $50 billion in annual revenues, today took a step closer to a subscription model for electronics by offering a Buy Back plan, which invites shoppers to “future-proof” their new gear– for a price, of course.

They’d pay an upfront fee–say $69.99, for a laptop or tablet–and then get 10 to 50 percent of the value of the product back if it’s returned within two years, assuming normal wear and tear.

This is smart business for Best Buy, which has struggled lately, and it’s good for the planet.

“What we are really after here is stickiness,” said Brian Dunn, the CEO of Best Buy, when we spoke by phone this morning.

The Buy Back program encourages repeat business because consumers who bring back gear they no longer want are paid with a Best Buy gift card. [click to continue…]

Best Buy: An emerging green giant

best_buy_5th_ave.home By now, everyone paying attention to the greening of corporate America knows about Wal-Mart’s sweeping sustainability programs. Big-box rival Best Buy has not been nearly as visible about its efforts to become more environmentally and socially responsible. But I recently visited Best Buy’s headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota, on assignment for FORTUNE, and came away impressed with what the $40-billion a year company has been doing.

My story, headlined Best Buy Wants Your Electronic Junk, appears in the current issue (December 7) of the magazine, as the latest in a series on FORTUNE 500 companies. This one showcases a corporate responsibility leader, and we settled on Best Buy.

Why, you may wonder? Predominantly because Best Buy is a pioneer when it comes to electronics take-back, which is the focus of the story. [click to continue…]