By Bill Hudson

RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — Shockwaves first hit at Carlson headquarters in Minnetonka on Friday. That’s when Carlson’s former CEO, Hubert Joly, tendered his resignation.

It didn’t take long to see why. On Monday morning, Richfield-based Best Buy announced they had hired Joly to lead the struggling electronics retailer.

After four years as CEO of the travel, hospitality and restaurant giant, Joly decided it was time to apply his turnaround skills in a field he’s previously had success in.

Carlson board chairwoman, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, issued a video statement. Carlson-Nelson said in part, “while Hubert’s announcement was a surprise to all of us, our family and board unanimously selected Trudy (Roudio) whom we’ve come to appreciate over the last 15 years.”

Trudy Roudio was quickly elevated to fill Carlson’s CEO vacancy left by Joly’s sudden departure. The 15-year veteran executive at Carlson is expected to make a seamless transition into her new role.

But it will be a much rougher road across town at Best Buy, where Joly will lead a company that’s quickly losing market share to Amazon, Target and Walmart.

“I think it tips Best Buy’s hand a bit. They are going to place a bet on revamping their physical location strategy,” says Jeffrey Rich, a former retail consultant who is now at Hamline University.

Rich says Joly’s skills at transforming struggling companies will be firmly tested.

In a prepared statement released Monday, Best Buy’s board chairman, Hatim Tyabji said, “his range and depth of experience in transforming companies is exactly what the company needs.”

At Carlson-Wagonlit, Joly oversaw the travel sector more than triple its sales from between 2003 and 2007.

Not only will a Joly-led Best Buy have to win big box customers back, he and his team will have to find a strategy for stopping the exodus of online shoppers.

“How do you compete with Amazon, who is less expensive, product-by-product?” Rich said. “They have defined the problem, now they have to try to define what the solution will be.”


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