In the wake of disappointing holiday sales in every channel except online, Best Buy Co. Inc. is shaking up its executive ranks.
Best Buy, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is expanding the responsibilities of two of its executive vice presidents—Shari Ballard and Mike Vitelli—to create what the retailer is calling “a more compelling multichannel experience for our customers.”
Effective immediately, Ballard and Vitelli will no longer share the role of president of Best Buy’s domestic business. Instead Vitelli will assume leadership of all Best Buy domestic operations in his redefined role as president of Best Buy U.S. In his expanded role, he assumes responsibility for the company's domestic business groups and channels, including online. “Vitelli's key focus areas will be creating a seamless customer experience across all channels, accelerating operational enhancements that will grow higher margin sales of connections and services and continuing to unlock opportunities to drive improved returns,” the company says.
Vitelli joined Best Buy, which posted web sales of $2.5 billion in 2010, in 2004 as senior vice president, home solutions. He previously spent 23 years with Sony Electronics Corp. "To make the most of the profitable opportunities we see both domestically and internationally, we are establishing dedicated responsibility with two of our senior executive leaders," says CEO Brian Dunn.
Ballard is the new top executive running Best Buy’s international operations and will oversee store and web operations in China, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Ballard joined Best Buy in 1993 as an assistant store manager and in 2007 was named executive vice president in charge of retail channel management, legal affairs, human resources and the entertainment operating group. “In Canada, she will help the company continue to improve the sales of connections and services and will drive greater synergies between our two brands of Best Buy and Future Shop,” says Best Buy. “In Mexico, she will focus on the continued strengthening of the brand and business results, as well as enhancing cross-border commerce opportunities for Best Buy U.S. and Best Buy Mexico customers.”
Best Buy’s overhaul of its executives comes in the wake of disappointing offline holiday store sales. Total December sales were flat at about $8.4 billion and U.S. comparable-store sales declined 0.4%., the retailer says. The lone bright spot was online. Best Buy didn’t release actual numbers, but says e-commerce sales increased 26% for the five weeks ended Dec. 31. “The domestic segment online channel delivered a 26% revenue increase compared to the prior-year period, driven by a strong traffic increase,” says Best Buy.