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Best Buy Hires New CEO With View to Turnaround

Hubert Joly's appointment comes after months of looking for a new company leader.

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Announcing that Hubert Joly would be taking over from interim CEO George “Mike” Mikan as Best Buy’s new CEO, the Richfield-based consumer electronics retailer on Monday touted the longtime Minnesota executive’s experience growing media, technology and service sector companies as the principal reason behind the hire.

Joly, who since March 2008 had been CEO of Carlson, the global hospitality and travel company headquartered in Minnetonka, resigned from that company over the weekend. He is expected to begin at Best Buy in early September.

Best Buy pointed out Joly’s successful history orchestrating corporate turnarounds. As an executive with electronics retailer Vivendi between 1999 and 2001, he led the company’s growth and restructuring, developing its online presence through games such as Diablo and World of Warcraft.

Joly also led the French company Electronic Data Systems in a successful turnaround between 1996 and 1999, boosting company revenues from 1.3 billion to 2.1 billion French francs, the statement reported.

After helping lead an increase in Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s (CWT) sales from $8 billion in 2003 to $25 billion in 2007, Joly was named CEO of CWT’s parent company, Carlson, in 2008.

In addition to operating more than 1,300 hotels, including Radisson and Country Inns and Suites, Carlson operates more than 900 T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants. With businesses in more than 150 countries and territories, the company’s brands employ more than 170,000 people. Joly is succeeded by longtime Carlson executive Trudy Rautio.

As reported by the Star Tribune, Best Buy has apparently been recruiting Joly for several weeks; the incoming CEO sent a note to company employees Monday morning, assuring them he sees a future for the retailer.

"My strong hypothesis is that there is a real and very special place for Best Buy in this market, one that combines competitive prices and great service at the point of sale and over time, and one that combines an online and a physical presence," Joly wrote.

Joly is active in a number of Twin Cities organizations; he serves on the Carlson School of Management’s board of overseers and is on the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ board of trustees. He is also on the executive committee of the Minnesota Business Partnership.

Joly’s hiring comes amidst continued pressure from Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, who has repeatedly expressed an interest in buying the company. As reported by the Star Tribune, on Sunday Schulze rejected an offer from Best Buy’s board of directors which would have allowed him to review the company’s financial data in exchange for delaying any takeover attempt until 2013.

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