UPDATE: Best Buy stores in Saanich, Langford shut down

Electronics merchandiser closes all three Island locations, cuts 15 Future Shop and Best Buy stores across Canada

Employees including Mo Aref

Standing in the rain holding a severance package in an envelope, Lyle Sayers heads to his car in disbelief.

The Langford father of three is left without a job after the Best Buy at Westshore Town Centre shut its doors on Jan. 31.

He was the multi-media senior staffer at the West Shore location, one of three stores on the Island that abruptly shut its doors on Thursday. The location at Uptown Centre in Saanich and the Nanaimo location were also closed.

“I didn’t even get a phone call, I was supposed to work from 2 to 10 p.m.” said Sayers. “It’s really sad, I have a mortgage, but it’s the benefits that are really freaking me out. It’s a bit of a panic.”

A handful of employees stood outside the store where the doors were monitored by two security guard. A Best Buy human resource worker was inside handing out severance packages and a counsellor was inside if anyone needed to talk about the situation.

Roberta Ferguson, general manager of Uptown, said the news Thursday morning that Best Buy was closed came as a shock to her.

“We’re still going our assessments and then we’ll formulate our go-forward plans,” she said. “We’ll be looking at that tenancy and how it affects us.”

The Uptown Best Buy, some 38,000 square feet, opened in August 2010, and was one of the anchor tenants announced as part of the old Town & Country Shopping Centre’s major revitalization.

“Obviously both Uptown and the tenant were all very excited when we made our plans to open all of those anchor tenants, with the plan that the relationship would have a long tenancy,” Ferguson said. “But things change in the business world.”

Ferguson would not comment on Best Buy’s lease of the space atop Uptown, or what financial impact that site being vacant might have on the shopping centre.

Bruce Copp stood out front of the Langford location with a few former co-workers talking about their disappointments and how they heard the news.

That Best Buy employed between 80 and 90 people, Copp said.

“This is kinda crappy from a corporate standpoint,” said the father of two who has worked at the store for more than two years.

Copp ran the Geek Squad at the store and is hoping he’ll be able to find work in the same field somewhere else.

“I found this out from social media, it would have been nice to have some notice,” Copp said.

As the news began to sink in for the newly unemployed, the group slowly began to disband with, “Nice working with you.”

Nationwide eight Future Shop and seven Best Buys stores closed on Jan. 31. Over the next three years the company will be launching Future Shop Small-Concept web stores and new Best Buy Mobile locations across Canada, according to a release from Best Buy.

The release calls the closures a “real estate optimization plan” as part of a “long-term transformational strategy to optimize the company’s retail footprint across the country.”

The News contacted Best Buy spokespeople Danielle Jang and Shannon Kidd to get further information on the closure and the decision to keep employees in the dark, both of whom outright refused to comment.

– with files from Kyle Slavin

charla@goldstreamgazette.com

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