April 22, 2009 / 7:16 AM / 11 years ago

Best Buy close to securing 5 UK sites

LONDON (Reuters) - Best Buy Europe, the retail joint venture between U.S. group Best Buy and Britain’s Carphone Warehouse has internally signed-off lease agreements on five UK sites, its chief executive told Reuters.

Roger Taylor, who is also Carphone’s chief financial officer, said that made it more likely the venture would meet its new Spring 2010 launch date, which was recently delayed from the previously planned summer 2009.

“Basically we’re in a position where our joint venture board has signed off on...five leases internally and we’re in the final stages of dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s with landlord terms on those,” Taylor said in a telephone interview.

Asked whether this made it more likely the new Spring 2010 launch date would be met, Taylor said: “Yes it does.”

He declined to say where the stores were, but added the venture would be “rapidly opening stores thereafter,” probably at a rate of about 20 to 25 a year.

Best Buy Europe said in March it was delaying its launch of electrical goods megastores in part because of a tough trading environment and also to benefit from falling property prices.

Taylor said on Wednesday there were signs consumer markets were stabilising, but it was premature to talk of a recovery.

He also said Carphone expected to split its telecoms and retail businesses next year and was confident it had found a way to ensure the retail unit could to achieve a stock market listing, despite its joint venture status.

Some analysts had suggested that UK listing rules might prevent a separate stock market listing of the retail unit.

“The UKLA (UK Listing Authority) have not formally signed a letter...but basically we’re in a position that we’re very confident we can achieve our desired aim,” Taylor said.

He added that selling the telecoms and retail businesses was neither in the group’s plans, nor being considered.

Reporting by Mark Potter, Editing by David Jones

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