Best Buy exec. Stephen Gillett departsby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Best Buy executive charged with pumping up the struggling retailer's online sales is leaving the company.
Stephen Gillett, president of Best Buy Digital, is the latest in a string of top executive departures from the company this year. He will join the Symantec software company as chief operating officer. Gillett's departure is surprising given his prominent role in the retailer's plan to boost online sales, Morningstar retail analyst R.J. Hottovy said.
"He was considered an asset for that part of the turnaround initiative, and to see him depart for another opportunity just add more questions to the viability of the turnaround plan and just proves how much of a challenge it could be," Hottovy said.
Best Buy estimates it captures about 7 percent of online consumer electronics sales but figures Amazon gets 21 percent.
Gillett joined Best Buy last March. Since then the company has had three CEOs and retail sales have steadily slipped. His departure is a big loss for Best Buy, said Edward Jones retail analyst Brian Yarbrough.
"His responsibility was improving the online business, that we all know they have struggle with and have not done a very good job with in the past," Yarbrough said. "There's other capable people there. It's just he came from Starbucks. He had a very solid track record and background and his leaving definitely is going to leave a hole."
A Best Buy news release quoted Gillett as saying he will miss working at the company and participating in what he believes could be one of the most significant business transformation opportunities in recent years. Best Buy thanked Gillette for his contributions and wished him well at Symantec.
Gillett was not available for comment.