Hubert Joly will pass the CEO baton to Corie Barry on June 11, but remain as executive board chair.
The routine was the same as it’s been every three months or so for the past seven years. Analysts, investors and a smattering of media types dialed in Thursday to listen to Best Buy’s top executives shed light on its quarterly earnings.
This was Best Buy chief executive Hubert Joly’s final earnings call, and he carved out a notable chunk of time to talk about turning the company over to veteran Corie Barry, the current chief financial officer, on June 11.
Though scripted, Joly and Barry took the moment both to assure analysts of their “seamless transition” executives and state their mutual respect.
He commended the new leadership team, which includes promoting chief operating officer Mike Mohan as incoming president, not just for its talent but, in true Joly form, for its “culture, heart and soul.”
Joly, the intense, French-born executive, became known for his high-fives, exuberance and use of words not often discussed at the Harvard Business School, such as using “human magic” to fuel the company.
“The company is in good hands,” he said.
Barry, 44, becomes the fifth chief in Best Buy’s 53-year history and one of just seven female CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.
She commended the board for its “stunningly good decision” to hire “a Frenchman with no retail experience to save this company.”
Said Barry: “He brought his remarkable brain, boundless energy and deep passion to the job.”
It’s not a denouement for Joly, exactly. He remains an employee of the company, and will continue to lead the board of directors, serve as Barry’s strategic adviser and do government affairs work on behalf of the retailer.
Best Buy still faces challenges from Amazon, a trade war with China and the inherent volatility of being in the business of selling technology to consumers. But Joly leaves the post having resolved its most pressing issues: restoring Best Buy to profitability and returning respectability to the brand.
At a town hall meeting with employees on Thursday, Joly noted that he’d started packing up his office. He’ll likely be within shouting distance of Barry’s office.
“My main goal is to do everything I can to support Corie and the team,” he told reporters Thursday. “I don’t believe for a nanosecond that Corie needs training wheels. But I think it’s good from the continuity standpoint do think it’s important for the investment community that I be available to her.”
Best Buy is undergoing a search process to replace Barry as top financial officer.
“I’m clearly passing the baton — which is a French word — to Corie and her team with a very happy and a full heart and with the strong conviction that the right team is in place for this pivotal moment in Best Buy’s history,” Joly said. “I very much look forward to watching Corie and her team do their magic.”