Fmr. Best Buy CEO: Hiring Shows Confidence

Brad Anderson on new jobs report


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": You spend and, boy, do they ever cash in. Nearly 50,000 retail workers hearing "You’re hired" last month, as shoppers hit the malls in droves.

Retailers’ hiring spree far better than almost any other sector out there in this country, but are those jobs here to stay? Keep in mind a lot of them we’re told will be temporary.

But Brad Anderson thinks that there might be something of more staying power here. He’s the former CEO of Best Buy.

He was one of early ones who said it would probably be a good idea if the employees knew what they were doing and talking about.

That was a brilliant move on your part.

Good to have you.

BRAD ANDERSON, FORMER CEO, BEST BUY: It’s great to be here. Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you think is going on out here? Is it real? Will it last? What?

ANDERSON: I think this might be real, because we are seeing things going on concurrently.

We’re seeing GDP growth beginning to pick up, 2 percent. We are seeing customer confidence begin to grow. That is really significant.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

ANDERSON: None of these are great numbers yet.

And then the 50,000 hiring’s, that is a statement of -- I know it’s is seasonal, but that’s also a statement of optimism on the part of retailers. And that’s -- if you look at October sales, there is a reason that they are optimistic. And I don’t know this from inside information, but it looks like November probably was pretty good, too.

CAVUTO: You mentioned something profound that I had forgotten. We have been hoodwinked on this before. It was a year ago that we saw a pickup and everyone sad, OK, everything is over, relax, calm down, we are back to the races. And, obviously, we weren’t.


CAVUTO: Why makes you think this could be different?

ANDERSON: I think we are so far -- we have been into this recession for so long, people are so used to it.

And it is so integrated into the system. And this is fundamentally an energetic country, an enthusiastic and optimistic country. I think we have been pessimistic for too long. But given any kind of route out, we will we take it. At least I hope that is what is going on.

CAVUTO: You know what is interesting about it, Brad? And speaking back to Best Buy, they are veering toward the not-so-cheap stuff.

They’re buying the plasma TVs. They’re buying these very expensive games, "Call of Duty," whatever it is, at a minimum $60 a pop for that kind of stuff. That is not just splurging. That is gambling, isn’t it?

ANDERSON: Yes. If you look at -- fuel costs are not down that much and there is nothing else to give them a lot more money to do that

So, yes, I think that -- and those are things which almost everybody has got. It’s not like we lack entertainment at home. And it’s not like there’s not cheap ways to get entertainment. As you see people start to loosen up on that, that is a real good sign that people are feeling better and are more confident and things are going to being to improve.

CAVUTO: I talk to retail experts who were never CEOs of major retailers who say, well, break it down and it’s really the more well-to-do catering establishments that are the real early beneficiaries, not so much the other guys. What do you say to that?

ANDERSON: Well, we have been seeing that for a long time.

But if it is picking up -- that was already there, and you had already the more well-to-do, really, during most of the year, continued to do shopping. And you looked at retailers that cater to the more well-to-do were doing better.

Now it seems to be across the board. That is new.

CAVUTO: What is new in the way CEOs are thinking? I know you talk to a lot of your CEO buddies, past and present. And they all to a man or woman argue we need either Washington off our back or something to incentivize us to look forward to the future and hire more, et cetera.

What has changed? What is going on now?

ANDERSON: God, hope -- I hope they’re not incentivized to look towards the future.

CAVUTO: That’s interesting.

ANDERSON: That would be...


CAVUTO: By incentivize any government...

ANDERSON: Yes. There are plenty of reasons.

One of the things I -- as I get a chance to look around now as sort of more of a generalist, there is a lot of latent innovation here.

We could be energy independent out of North America and manufacturing could move back to North America. There is a lot of things from...


CAVUTO: What is stopping that?

ANDERSON: Well, if we decide not to build a pipeline that is not good. And if we decide not to let oil shale be captured, that energy independence, at least practically, goes away for the foreseeable future. And that affects -- that has a change of effect on things like...


CAVUTO: The president has held up on the Keystone pipeline.


CAVUTO: You think that is a bad move?

ANDERSON: Yes, I think that is a bad strategic move.

CAVUTO: And why again? Because that would just leave us...


ANDERSON: Well, because if we could move to genuine independence for North America -- if you think about it as you go through the rest of the chain of things, now it makes more sense to build a factory in North America than it might somewhere else, because you have got a relatively low cost of energy base here that starts to equalize other kind of cost constraints which might be greater.

And some of the costs in other places in the world are going up.

CAVUTO: So you are a little more optimistic than last we chatted?



ANDERSON: A little. I don’t want to overstate it, but there are all -- clouds are still there. But I don’t want to overstate it, but, yes, I am more optimistic.

CAVUTO: Very interesting.

All right, Brad Anderson, thank you, the former CEO of Best Buy.

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