Essex Jobs At Risk In Carphone Move

More than 1,000 jobs are in jeopardy after a push by America's Best Buy, which has a Thurrock store, and Carphone Warehouse to crack the UK electronic market ended in failure.

Best Buy's 11 "big box" stores will close by the end of 2011 after it made losses of £46.7 million in the six months to September and Carphone said current trading conditions meant the venture did not have a viable future.

Carphone and its partner Best Buy launched their joint-venture in 2008 with a promise to shake up a market dominated by Currys and PC World owner Dixons Retail and Comet, although the first store, at Thurrock, did not open until 2010.

Best Buy originally planned 200 stores in Europe by 2013, and hoped to undercut the competition on price and offer American-style customer service.

Despite a £1.1 billion investment, its launch coincided with the downturn, which saw a substantial drop in demand for sales of TVs, video consoles and computers, while the growing popularity of the internet added to its woes.

Other retailers such as Comet owner Kesa Electricals and Dixons have issued profit warnings in recent months.

Carphone said it hopes to find work for the "large majority'" of 1,100 staff within its 805 stores in the UK, which are increasingly focusing on selling more electrical goods such as smartphones and tablet computers, particularly through its Wireless World format.

Best Buy Europe chief executive Andrew Harrison said: "The technology world has changed substantially since 2008 and we are confident we will best serve our customers by investing in a single brand and format rather than two."

Best Buy UK currently has big box stores in Thurrock, Aintree, Bristol, Croydon, Derby, Enfield, Hayes, Hedge End, Merry Hill, Nottingham and Rotherham.

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