Hundreds queue for U.S-style discounts as first Best Buy electrical megastore opens in Britain

Hundreds of people queued up early today to snap up bargains at the opening of the UK's first Best Buy superstore.

The American discount electricals giant is slashing prices by up to 50 per cent to compete on the highly competitive British high street.

The company's first outlet is in Thurrock, Essex and it plans to open 200 more, selling electric cars alongside 3D televisions and lap-tops. Its British website will go live in the autumn.

The crowds gather early in the morning for the opening day of Britain's first Best Buy in Thurrock, Essex

The company says it is prepared to suffer losses of £45million in its first year of trading in Britain in order to grab market share from rivals.

Historically, British consumers have paid far more for their technology, from the latest Apple iPods to Sony PlayStations, than their US counterparts.

International electronic firms have treated Britain as a Treasure Island where they have been able to get away with charging more.

Best Buy says it will match the cheapest shop prices from rivals within a 15 mile radius. It will then sweeten the deal with an added discount of 10per cent of the difference.

Tempting offers include 45per cent off a Toshiba 32in HD ready LCD TV bringing it down to just £179.99 and similar reductions on other sets.

Anyone who pays more than £499 for a TV will get their money back if England win the World Cup.

Best Buy will sell TVs and computers as well as energy-saving products such as electric cars, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles

BEST BUY: Facts and Figures

Best Buy was founded in 1966 as The Sound of Music store. It changed its name in 1983.

Today it is the largest electronics retailer in the U.S and Canada and operates around 1,300 stores. 

The company bought half of The Carphone Warehouse's retail business in 2008 for £1.1billion. It has used the phone company's 2,400 retail stores to help it break into the European market.

The Best Buy family of brands and partnerships collectively generates more than £27 billion in annual revenue.

There is a 44 per cent saving on a Nintendo Wii black console with wireless remote, nunchuk, Wii sports and Wii sports resort, bringing the price down to £99.99.

There are also half-price deals on mobile phones and Blackberry handsets plus savings on digital cameras. The price of integrated kitchen appliances will be 25 per cent off.

The company has enormous financial muscle and some 20 per cent of the north American electricals market.

It paid more than £1billion for 50per cent of Carphone Warehouse to gain a foothold in the UK and will be a direct rival to specialists Currysdigital and Comet.

However, it will also be locked in a fierce price battle with Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer, which have their own growing electrical departments.

Best Buy will also pose a challenge to John Lewis, which has its own price promise of 'Never Knowing Undersold'.

The store will feature a 'GreenTech' area, which will showcase energy-saving products such as electric cars, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles.

Customers were soon snaking around the building eager to get their hands on electricals with up to 50% discount

The retailer will exclusively stock the Brammo Enertia electric motorcycle, which will be available to buy from August. It will also sell electric scooters such as the Xero Tech, with prices starting at £1,499.99.

Best Buy will showcase the £86,950 Tesla Roadster, with a 244-mile range, understood to be the fastest electric vehicle in production.

It will also offer the Citroën C1 ev'ie four-seater city car, which will be available in all Best Buy stores for customers to test drive and order.

The cars, which are converted to run on electricity in the UK and have a starting price of £16,850, are exempt from congestion charges and road tax.

Best Buy staff will also offer consumers advice on how to save energy and money.

Customers who want a new 3D TV will be able to buy the LG 47" LCD version for just under £2,500. A Panasonic 50" plasma 3D TV will be on offer for £2,300 from June.

Chief executive of Best Buy Branded Operations, Paul Antoniadis, said: 'We are confident that we can deliver a whole new experience in consumer electronics retailing.

'We look forward to welcoming our first customers to our store where they’ll find lots of amazing deals, great prices and entertainment.'

Best Buy operates a 'Walk out working' system. Customers who buy any laptop, camera or mobile phone can have it set up so its ready to use by store staff.

This will include transferring old contacts onto your new mobile phone or installing software and parental controls on your new laptop.

The store is also offering a trade-in service where customers can return old televisions, laptops and mobile phones, to receive discounts towards a purchase.

The next Best Buy stores will open in Hedge End, Southampton, and Merry Hill, the West Midlands, in June. Others will follow in Liverpool, Croydon, and Cribbs Causeway, Bristol.

U.S giant Best Buy's opening shots in high street price war

Saving on RRP (£)
Saving on RRP(%)
Toshiba 32" HD ready LCD TV
Samsung 32" LED Full HD 1080P TV
Dell Mini 1011 Windows 7 Netbook
Dell Inspiron 1564 15.6'' black laptop  
Avatar Blu-ray combi pack (Blu-ray and DVD) 
Nintendo Wii console with remote, nunchuk, Wii sports and resort      
PS3 Slim 250GB console with games inc FIFA World Cup 2010 and Blu-ray remote 
Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite console with wireless
controller and games inc Battlefield 2           
Go Cycle electric bicycle with free carry case           
eScooter Classic 3KW
Urban Glider Electric Bicycle   
Half price PAYG Blackberry Curve 8520 Black & Lilac
(Subject to £20 min network top-up)     
Half price PAYG Nokia X3
(Subject to £20 min network top-up)
Half price Fujifilm J25 Digital Compact Camera    
Samsung ST550 digital compact camera      
Sony A230 Digital SLR Camera   

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