Brown paper covered glass doors at Best Buy locations at Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich and at West Shore Town Centre in Langford. Security guards handed out information pamphlets to customers and ushered employees into the store.
According to one of the guards, employees only found out about the closure as they arrived for work. This could leave dozens jobless between the two stores.
The pamphlets being handed out directed would-be customers to Future Shop locations at Uptown and on McCallum Drive in Langford.
Calls to both Victoria locations and the Best Buy in Nanaimo were re-routed to Future Shop and contact information for the stores being closed had been removed from Best Buy’s website by 10 a.m.
Best Buy stores in Canada are a division of Burnaby-based Best Buy Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy Co. Inc. which also owns Future Shop.
While Best Buy’s head office did not return calls Thursday, a press release called the closures part of a “transformational strategy.”
According to the company the plan will “optimize the company’s retail footprint across the country.”
That means shuttering the Island Best Buy stores and locations in South Surrey, New Westminster, as well as two Quebec locations.
Of the eight Future Shop closures only one is in B.C., in West Kelowna.
Best Buy said over the next 36 months it will move into a second phase of its “Renew Blue” strategy with plans to open new Future Shop small-concept web stores and new Best Buy Mobile locations.
“This move will enable the company to better serve its customers in both more locations and smaller markets across the country,” it said in a release. “The move was based on an extensive review of Best Buy’s retail footprint in Canada in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs, eliminate redundant operating systems and to optimize its real estate strategy to reflect a more a changing retail landscape.”
The company been facing tough competition from discounters and online retailers, a victim of what’s known as “showrooming” — when people browse in stores and then buy the products more cheaply online from competitors such as Amazon.
Best Buy had announced last March, that it was closing 50 stores in the U.S. The company posted mediocre holiday sales.
Best Buy would not provide numbers, but estimates the closures will affect less than five per cent of its total workforce.
Employees were to receive severance support, access to employee assistance programs and career transition support.
The first Best Buy Canada stores were opened in the fall of 2002, with eight locations in the Greater Toronto Area. Over the next two years, Best Buy expanded west, opening more stores in Ontario and entering new markets in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.
Best Buy Canada had operated 120 Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile and 140 Future Shop store across the country before today’s closures.
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