Best Buy shifts from layoffs to hiring: adding 500 Geek Squad agents
Jul 16, 2012 (Menafn - Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Less than two weeks after announcing 600 staff cuts in its Geek Squad service team, Best Buy Co. says it plans to hire 500 new agents for that unit in coming months.
The shift coincides with increased demand from Geek Squad customers who need "cross-platform work," which could include whole-house networking of multiple devices and services for small businesses.
The new employees will be spread out among Best Buy stores nationally and at Geek Squad's remote support channel that serves customers online, said Paula Baldwin, a Best Buy spokesperson.
When word of the Geek Squad layoffs came on July 6, the cuts appeared to be focused on repair and home electronics installation positions. The new hires, geared more toward higher-end service, will also help Geek Squad build its contract business that gives customers unlimited access to work on their PCs and tablets, with terms of a year or more. The service will include virus removal, operating system and software installation and repair, and other trouble-shooting duties, Baldwin said.
When Richfield-based Best Buy announced a major reshuffling of its business earlier this year, it also noted it will sell support services to small businesses, including securing data.
Geek Squad employees who earlier were notified that their jobs are being eliminated will have an opportunity to apply for the new jobs or other Best Buy openings, Baldwin said. Required credentials for Geek Squad jobs can include various industry
accreditations "depending on the specific job," Baldwin said. The company also tests "for technical proficiency, as well as for passion and curiosity."
The shift in the 500 to 600 jobs would represent about 3 percent of the Geek Squad's 20,000 employees.
In its most recent quarterly earnings report released last month, Best Buy noted a 2.3 percent decline in sales of services. The decline "was primarily due to a decrease in computer services revenue" that resulted in a shift from "one-time repair services to ongoing technical support service contracts," the company said.
The 600 Geek Squad job cuts announced a couple of weeks ago were among 2,400 job cuts announced that week, which also included reductions in store employees.
All of the moves at Best Buy are tied to an overhaul of the business announced in March, as the company faces increased competition from online rivals and customers who are increasingly willing to shop around.
That overhaul included the immediate closure of 50 stores and 400 job cuts at the company's Richfield headquarters. Many of Best Buy's big box stores are also being shrunk in size.
Best Buy stock, which started the year at 23.68 per share, closed Monday at 18.90, down 10 cents.
John Welbes can be reached at 651-228-2175. Follow him at Twitter.com/jwelbes.
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