Confronting the COVID-19

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WILLIAM W. GEORGEAMRAM MIGDALHARVARDBUSINESS SCHOOL9-321-073 JANUARY 12, 2021 0 (71 0 C7/ O CN CS) Best Buy’s Corie Barry: Confronting the COVID-19 O “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.” — Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller, 19891 ci) On November 24, 2020, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry proudly announced Best Buy’s third-quarter -0 a) o results. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, comparable sales rose 23%, buoyed by a 174% E (7) increase in online sales; GAAP diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 35%, and non-GAAP diluted EPS 82% (see Exhibit 1).2 Just eight months into her tenure, Barry—one of the youngest CEOs of a 0 0) publicly traded company—faced challenges that were daunting even for seasoned executives. LO 0 0 a3 In March, Best Buy had voluntarily closed all 1,026 of its U.S. stores to the public and simultaneously o< moved to a curbside-pick-up model, withdrawing its Geek Squad service reps from visiting customers’ o(,) C,1 homes and furloughing 51,300 employees. Barry, the company’s board members, and her executive Ea) team took pay cuts and drew down Best Buy’s credit line in their efforts to adapt and survive while 2 e_9 staying true to their commitment to employees’ and customers’ health and safety. 2 a) (c1)) By May, virtually all localities deemed Best Buy an essential retailer and limited in-store and in-home services resumed under new operating procedures to keep customers and employees safe. Over .1D (7) the summer, online sales soared. For Barry, Best Buy’s performance was a testament to the adaptability al 0 of its store general managers (GMs) and frontline employees. “For our teams, it’s been incredibly rewarding, because they’ve realized they can change on a dime, execute, and succeed,” she said. Reflecting on the multiple crises the company had faced, Barry was especially grateful for the support and camaraderie of her colleagues. She and her team had committed to the goal that Best Buy would not only weather the virus and other disruptions but emerge a more vibrant company than ever -c co before. The crisis drove home the importance of the transparent, collaborative culture that existed co among her executive team, especially President and COO Mike Mohan, her longtime colleague and co former boss. She felt this teamwork had enabled the company to make some momentous decisions in co a timely manner. l—As winter approached, with the COVID-19 virus escalating at an unprecedented rate throughout z 0 the United States, many retail establishments were once again being forced to limit operations to online and takeout only. Barry worried that retailers like Best Buy might be required to go through another `c5 O N *s= 0 Senior Fellow William W. George and Case Researcher Amram Migdal (Case Research & Writing Group) prepared this case. It was reviewed and _C approved before publication by a company designate. Funding for the development of this case was provided by Harvard Business School and not by the company. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.PandemicCopyright © 2021 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to www.hbsp.harvard.edu. This publication may not be digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.

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