Best Buy opens first UK store in Thurrock, we go hands-on (video)

Ah, there it is, UK's first-ever Best Buy store, officially born at 7am local time yesterday. Naturally, we had to be there to witness such magical moment for Britain's consumer tech market -- the Brits had longed for an injection of energy and professionalism to the seemingly slacking chain stores. Many would agree that DSGi's two main brands -- Currys and PC World -- are on the naughty list, even after their recent relaunch. From what we saw today, it looks like Best Buy's already heading in the right direction. Let's start with the front-line employees. Most of these Blueshirts provided genuine technical answers rather than bluffing their way out, plus we were given product recommendations with no desperate sales pitch as commonly seen in other stores. When we revealed our identity to one of the sales reps, he confirmed that they were trained to not force random products onto customers -- quite the opposite culture to his old days at DSGi (assuming he was telling the truth). We sure did appreciate this new-found shopping freedom in gadget stores, but did the other customers feel the same way? Find out what we heard after the break.%Gallery-92099%

In between grilling Best Buy sales reps, we interviewed random customers for thoughts on the newcomer. Like us, they also noticed Best Buy's non-invasive but professional and helpful approach to wandering customers, although some reported seeing mixed performance amongst the temporary large staff. We, too, came across an annoying phone rep who didn't even know there were two mains types of touchscreens, but we suspect she was sent in by sister company Carphone Warehouse. Regardless, time will tell if the US electronics giant has trained up everyone well. As for the 50,000-square-foot megastore, there's little to fault on the spacious and well-lit layout, plus the green tech zone -- housing several electric bicycles and even a Tesla Roadster -- deserves massive props, too. You can see for yourself in this video:

So that's Best Buy sorted for the meantime, but what about the local bad boy DSGi? Turned out there was a Currys megastore just a few hundred meters away from Best Buy's Thurrock store, so we popped by for a quick visit. Unsurprisingly, the store was much quieter in comparison. We even overheard one of the managers slagging off Best Buy's seemingly apathetic business approach, but then quickly instructed her staff to be less pushy to customers than usual. Never too late to start learning, eh?

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1 May 2010


The first Best Buy store in the UK opened its doors today to thousands of excited customers as the company hailed the first day at its Thurrock store as a resounding success.

Paul Antoniadis, CEO of Best Buy Branded Operations said: "Today is on track to be the biggest ever opening day for a Best Buy store anywhere in the world by volume of sales. Everyone on the Best Buy team is delighted with the start of this new chapter in Best Buy's story."

From 7 am onwards thousands of customers streamed through the front doors, taking advantage of incredible opening deals, competitions and entertainment.

Anthony from Purfleet said, "I've been waiting for ages since I saw Best Buy's launch announced last summer. Two weeks ago I found out it was opening today so I booked time off work to come down. I expected there to be big queues so I got down here early. I actually only came in for Avatar on Blu-Ray but now I've got two Nintendo Wiis and a hard drive – and I'm coming back later for a laptop when I've picked up the 'missus' from work."

Tom from Dartford said: "I spoke to a Blueshirt for about 10 minutes about laptops, he seemed to really know his stuff."

Best Buy's top opening day products included:
· Televisions: Toshiba 32" LCD TV HD Ready (32AV615) (£179.99, non-sale price £329.99) and Samsung 32" LED Full HD TV (1080P) (£399.99, non-sale price £699.99)
· Games: Wii Black with wireless remote, nunchuk, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort (£99.99, non-sale price £179.99)
· Entertainment: Avatar Blu-ray and DVD combi pack (£9.99)
· Computing: Iomega Prestige 1TB Desktop Hard Drive (£49.99, non-sale price £89.99)
· Mobile: Blackberry Curve 8250 Black & Lilac (£99.99 Pay as You Go, non-sale price £199.99)
· GreenTech and electric vehicles: Xero Tech eScooter Classic (£999.99, non-sale price £1,499.99) and Freeloader Solar Charger (£14.99, non-sale price £32.99)
· Camera: Fujifilm J25 Digital Camera (£49.99, non-sale price £99.99).

Best Buy also sold its first 3DTVs, including the flagship Samsung 40" 3DTV (UE40C8000) for £1,999.99.

Kam Prajapati, General Manager at Best Buy's store in Thurrock said: "Today has been an exciting time for our customers, Blueshirts and Geek Squad Agents alike. The response from customers has been so positive, whether about our helpful, knowledgeable team or the range of latest technology on offer - including TVs, laptops, mobiles, electric bikes, scooters and cars – and the amazing prices.

"What's been even more amazing is the surprise when people realise the real possibilities of technology. We help our customers to Walk out Working when they buy any laptop, camera or mobile phone, offer 121 Help so we can show them how to network their laptop, mobile and TV together to watch, share and enjoy music, movies and games at home and on the go."

'Grand Opening' deals that sold out on day one included: Wii Black with wireless remote, nunchuk, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort , Logitech 1100 Remote Control, Iomega Prestige 1TB Desktop Hard Drive, Blackberry Curve 8250 Pay as you Go (Black and Lilac), Samsung 32" LED Full HD TV (1080P).

The deals are continuing throughout the weekend, with Best Buy's recommendations:
· Dell Mini 1011 Notebook (£199 – amazing deal)
· Toshiba 32" LCD TV HD Ready (32AV615) (£179.99, non-sale price £329.99)
· Fujifilm J25 Digital Camera (£49.99, non-sale price £99.99)
· Avatar Blu-ray and DVD combi pack (£9.99)
· The Gocycle with free carry case £1,299.99 (cycle non-sale price £1499.99, case non-sale price £119.99) and Xero Tech eScooter Classic (£999.99, non-sale price £1499.99)
· Samsung C10 Standard Definition Camcorder (£99.99, non-sale price £129.99).