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Best Buy to lay off workers to slash expenses further

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY
  • Star Tribune
  • January 27, 2009 - 9:07 PM

Best Buy Co. Inc., said Tuesday it will resort to layoffs at corporate headquarters, even though 500 workers earlier this month agreed to leave voluntarily.

The Richfield-based retailer told corporate workers in an e-mail and in meetings Tuesday that an unknown number of employees will be laid off Feb. 19 as the company continues to cut costs amidst a massive slowdown in sales.

The average, nonmanagerial employee who is forced out will receive six months' pay plus health, dental and life insurance for a year, said spokeswoman Susan Busch. The voluntary package would have offered the same employee 7.5 months of wages.

No store employees will be affected, Busch said.

Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, has cut its $1.2 billion budget for capital expansion in half, mainly by opening fewer stores in the United States, Canada and China.

The voluntary buyouts were already trimming the 4,000-strong corporate workforce by 12.5 percent. Hourly workers as well as high-ranking vice-presidents signed up for the buyout. CEO Brad Anderson said last week that he will join the ranks of the departing workers, and in June will hand control to President Brian Dunn.

Busch said it's likely new jobs will be created as part of the "overall process of realigning resources," and that some laid-off employees might be eligible for different jobs at headquarters.

The company didn't provide workers with any information about how many jobs might be eliminated and which departments might be affected. Busch described the announcement as part of a "transparent approach" to providing "information as soon as we are able to give it out to employees, knowing we don't have all of the answers to share."

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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