And, with the announcement at the end of last week that Carphone Warehouse is bringing Best Buy to the UK, he has really turned up the heat on John Browett at DSGi at the worst possible time.
Retail Week went to press before Browett’s strategic review announcement – log on to Retail-week.com today for the full details and analysis – but DSGi needs big ideas and, while cost-cutting is essential, what will be really interesting is Browett’s ability to identify what the electricals retailer of the future looks like, both in-store and online.
Dunstone’s plan to open Best Buy stores in the UK is incredibly bold. Best Buy is, by common agreement, the best retailer at what it does in the world. Its customer service is light years ahead of what electricals shoppers here receive.
So another stroke of Dunstone genius? It’s certainly a good time to be acquiring space on retail parks, but, still, the plan is fraught with risk. His retail success to date has been built on inventing new retail concepts anticipating consumer demand. With Best Buy, he is taking a sector that is being slowly crucified by the internet and aiming to reinvent it.
His confidence is built on a conviction that, before long, we won’t leave the house without one of the new-generation smaller laptops – much as we don’t leave without mobile phones today. And who’s to argue with Dunstone, particularly with the world’s best-in-class retailer in tow?
His task is certainly not on the scale of Browett’s. But he’ll be under no illusions that transforming a category many had written off will be one of his biggest challenges yet.
Sainsbury’s soldiers on
It’s been hard to talk about Sainsbury’s without discussing the bid interest that dogged the company last year, but this week’s solid, if unspectacular, results show that this wasn’t allowed to derail the recovery.
The 1990s level of profitability may never return but, from the stores with the broadened non-food offer (page 28) to the strong Jamie Oliver marketing, there are a lot of operational positives that should keep the recovery on track.