Best Buy: Looking for answers from inside or outside?

I published the following comment on RetailWire a couple of weeks ago when it appeared that Richard Schulze (the founder) was going to make a run at Best Buy. This week the company announced the hiring of an outside CEO, but the issues raised in the last paragraph  remain the same. (I’ll comment separately about the new CEO’s skill set.) Here’s my take:

Whether Best Buy stays public or goes private is not the real issue. The biggest question is whether the founding CEO (who served on the board for many years after his retirement) and his handpicked successor as leader of the company can be the “agents of change” that BBY requires.

Yes, the company has developed a new “Connected” prototype in the shadow of its home office, and has successfully developed the “Mobile” concept. But a recent visit to a full-sized store showed the same issues that have dogged the company for years: A center core overspaced with CD’s, DVD’s and computer software…lackluster presentations of computers and TV’s…a dark, unappealing shopping environment. Schulze and his proteges have been very slow to react to the innovation of the Apple Store; how do they intend to fix Best Buy now?

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