Best Buy move not surprising

World of electronics and big business uncertain, especially for employees

Last week’s closure of Future Shop stores across Canada, including the Langford and Saanich locations, came somewhat out of the blue for most area customers of the popular electronics retailer.

And the fact parent company Best Buy Canada has chosen to rebrand 65 of its 131 Future Shop stores in this country as Best Buy – including the two Greater Victoria stores – might sound a little confusing, especially since it closed its Best Buy stores in this area some time back.

Chalk it all up to the topsy-turvy, shareholder return-driven world of corporate America.

Needing to improve its bottom line, Best Buy, which purchased Vancouver-based Future Shop in 2001, shaved 950 full-time Canadian employees from its payroll at the two brands in early 2014. Like many mega-corporations today, it’s all about return on investment, and the people on the front lines are the ones who pay the price for downsizing.

Luckily, employees at the Langford and Saanich stores were spared the permanent axe and will continue to collect their paycheques, albeit with an interruption of about a week or so. Both stores appear to be doing well, especially since the closure of Best Buy stores, their largest competitor, in January 2013.

We appreciate the fact that Greater Victoria customers who purchased items from Future Shop will have their warranties honoured by Best Buy, but that doesn’t guarantee job security for the workers.

While the trend is toward more purchases being made online – even for Best Buy – not everyone likes to shop without the experience of being able to pick up a product and see how it feels.

Whether this rather major industry hiccup is a foretelling of the future of electronics retailing on the West Shore and beyond is anyone’s guess. Area residents may remember the short lifespan in Langford of former home electronics giant A & B Sound.

We just hope that Best Buy employees start to look at a Plan B before too long, in case the worst comes sooner than later.

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