The sign for Tesco Express

Why Did A Big Box Giant Fail In The UK? | 0-Two Maintenance

One of the biggest challenges for larger companies is international expansion, as they need to ensure that their retail philosophy and commercial retail maintenance fit the country they plan to expand into.

We have seen many failures caused by an inability to translate what worked in one country to a very different culture. Walmart famously failed in Germany, Tesco’s “Fresh & Easy” did not work in the United States and Bunnings Warehouse was not ready for the UK market.

One of the most infamous of these is when a collaboration between a US consumer electronics giant and the first specialist mobile phone shop in the UK failed after just two years and launching just 11 stores.

The biggest reason for this is timing; Best Buy opened its first UK big box store in 2010 after buying a 50 per cent stake in Carphone Warehouse, in the midst of a global financial crisis when sales in consumer electronics had contracted considerably.

However, to lay everything at the feet of a recession is painting an incomplete picture, and it was far from the first mistake Best Buy UK made.

The first problem was that it took its US retail philosophy of having huge big box outlet stores to the UK directly, which works very well in the US due to a car-centric culture and decades of brand recognition, with the main selling point meant to be American-style customer service and great prices.

Ultimately, none of these factors worked in their favour, leaving Best Buy UK with 11 stores in far-flung locations with a name that few had heard of and no flagship to get their name and their brand out there.

As people were already spending less on electronics and non-essentials, and with a growing proportion of that being sold online, Best Buy UK did not have any hope of succeeding in a market already saturated.