A little over two years ago, Hubert Joly stepped down as chief executive of luxury brand Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) after nearly a decade at the helm. The departure sparked speculation about the possible next chapter in his career; in an interview with BBC radio, he pondered if he would pursue a move to politics or academia.
Joly has kept a low profile in the UK since then, but his key critics were not impressed by the prospect of another failed CEO taking the reins of a national champion (Tesco, Boots, Evraz, BAE Systems, Home Retail, AIA). Perhaps, they argued, the government should have called time on another UK nationalisticisation attempt.
Then, this year, Joly was recruited to the role of chairman of Best Buy, the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer. With his background as an industry practitioner, it looked like he would be well suited to help Best Buy’s now ex-CEO Terry Lundgren improve the company’s performance and its relationship with suppliers.
But while Joly is initially evaluating Best Buy’s best practices and theories of how to best tackle its challenges, he has overseen several moves to shore up the business during his short tenure as chairman. Last month, Best Buy announced a shake-up of its executive team, assigning new roles to current company leaders; on 9 October, Joly joined the company’s board and has now announced he will also become Best Buy’s lead independent director.
Joly says his latest mandate is to review Best Buy’s business with the aim of improving its operations, anticipating shifting consumer buying patterns and providing a better understanding of customer behaviour and preferences. Like most retailers, Best Buy has experienced recent turmoil as it struggles to manage a difficult consumer environment, intensifying competition and ongoing headwinds in the pace of technological change.