FORT WAYNE – Some retail watchers were taken aback by the abrupt departure of Best Buys boss.
Less than a week after speaking in Fort Wayne and extolling the companys comeback plan, Brian Dunn resigned Tuesday.
Lyman Lewis helped host Dunns April 5 appearance at IPFW and said he was surprised by the decision.
Maybe at some point Best Buy will get around to explaining what actually happened, said Lewis, MBA program administrator for IPFWs Doermer School of Business. When he was here there was no indication of this. We even stayed for the panel discussion.
Best Buy Co. of Minneapolis is the nations largest retailer, but has been criticized for not responding quickly enough to growing competition and the changing shopping habits of Americans.
Late last month, Dunn announced plans to close 50 stores nationwide, cut $800 million in costs and eliminate 400 corporate jobs.
It is obvious the companys Board of Directors was not satisfied with those actions, said Richard Feinberg, a Purdue University retail expert. Best Buy, however, said Dunns decision to leave was mutual, and that there were no disagreements with him on any matter relating to operations, financial controls, policies or procedures. But Best Buy also said it was time for new leadership given the challenges the company faces.
A Wall Street Journal report late Tuesday said Dunn resigned while company officials were investigating issues brought to the boards attention regarding his personal conduct. The issues were unrelated to the companys operations or financial controls, and an audit committee investigation was initiated, the newspaper reported Best Buy said in a later statement.
Something happened, Feinberg said. The company has clearly been challenged the last five years, certainly the last two years. Its hard to say what happened with the board, and it is a sudden thing.
Feinberg said the company is going to have to do something outside of the typical retail comeback formula.
Lowering costs, selling more and making (employee) cuts isnt going to be enough for them, he said. Its not a bad thing, though, that they seem to have acted fast. Circuit City waited too long to act.
Dunn, a 28-year veteran of Best Buy, had been CEO and director since June 2009.
The company said that it has already created a search committee to select a successor. Board member Mike Mikan, 39, will serve as interim CEO.
Best Buys shares on Tuesday closed at $21.32, down $1.33 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Associated Press contributed to this story.