Canadian electronics retail icon, Future Shop, has abruptly shut its doors across the country.
As per a story in The Ottawa Citizen, shoppers across Canada arrived at Future Shop on Saturday morning, only to find the retailer closed and locked. Some were there to shop, others to have their equipment serviced; Future Shop was known for their extended-warranty programs and many people who rely on outside tech support for their livelihood found themselves literally left out in the cold.
Even Future Shop’s employees were dumbfounded, according to CTV News, as they arrived at work expecting to attend a quarterly staff meeting and discovered they were arriving to lose their jobs.
“We had no idea. It was just, ‘Here’s your pay. Bye.'”
“It was just devastating. It’s really frustrating because there was no warning at all.”
The company said that 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs will be lost as a result of its consolidation. The company has stated that employees will receive severance, employee assistance, and outplacement support. In most provinces, some or all of this is required by law for any sudden termination without cause.
“Any decisions that impact our people are never taken lightly; our first priority is to support them through this change. I want to express my appreciation to the employees who are leaving, for their contributions to Best Buy Canada.”
David M. Gray, a social sciences professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in economics and labour market policy, described the sudden layoffs as “strange” and suggested that the abrupt Future Shop closure may be an attempt to avoid the worker relations fiasco currently facing Target as it pulls out of Canada.
Future Shop was established in 1982, and had become the country’s largest electronics retailer by 1990. In 2001, it was purchased by Missouri-based electronics giant Best Buy for $580 million. Best Buy did begin to establish its own stores in Canada following the acquisition, but continued to operate many Future Shop locations, as customers already had 20 years of established brand loyalty, even in locations where the two stores directly competed.
Best Buy has announced that, of the 131 Future Shop locations closed on Saturday, 65 will be reopening in a week as Best Buy stores, and that Best Buy will honour all Future Shop gift cards and warranties for the foreseeable future, as CBC notes.
Best Buy said that it is looking to address its “real estate footprint,” as in many cases the Future Shop and Best Buy stores were, if not directly across from each other, at least nearby as most urban shopping is now consolidated in big-box shopping districts. A move toward this was made in 2013, with eight Future Shop locations shutting down, as previously reported in the Inquisitr.
[Photo courtesy of user TheRavenIsUnskill/wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0]