US electricals giant Best Buy has identified the locations of its first four UK stores as speculation mounted that it was also weighing up opening a flagship store in central London.
The retailer has chosen Bath Road Retail Park in Slough, Two Rivers Retail Park in Staines, Thurrock Retail Park in Essex and Enfield Retail Park in north London as preferred locations for the first phase of its UK entry.
Best Buy’s choice of debut locations represents a landmark in the most eagerly awaited entry into the UK retail market for years.
Viewed by many as the world’s best electricals retailer, Best Buy sent shockwaves through the market when it announced its intention to enter the UK with the£1.1 billion acquisition of 50 per cent of Carphone Warehouse’s retail division in May.
Sources close to the retailer said Best Buy could open up to 20 stores in the UK next year. Although the focus will be on out-of-town stores on retail parks, six retail and property sources said that Best Buy was mulling the opening of a West End flagship, possibly on Regent Street, which has already attracted a raft of sought-after US brands.
In the US, Best Buy operates city and town centre stores, including one in SoHo in New York. There was speculation that it had targeted the Zavvi store at Piccadilly Circus, but this was played down by sources close to Zavvi.
A Carphone Warehouse spokesman would not comment on specific locations or the number of store openings. He said: “We haven’t entered into any agreements or applications. We are considering market opportunities.”
Property agent Briant Champion Long is advising on acquisitions, but was unavailable for comment.
Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said: “An operation that’s moving into the UK in a big way would want to make a splash. Apple opening a high-impact store on Regent Street is something that Best Buy would probably want to aspire to.
“Given the costs involved, you wouldn’t expect a London flagship to be hugely profitable, but it would raise the brand’s profile.”
The arrival of Best Buy comes as many of the UK’s top electricals players are struggling to cope with falling consumer spend and intensifying competition from online electricals retailers.
Best Buy, which is expected to update the City on its UK store openings in September, will compete head-on with the likes of DSGi’s Currys and PC World, and Kesa’s Comet.