Barnes & Noble Widens Q1 Loss

Barnes & Noble Sept. 6 reported a first-quarter (ended July 28) net loss of $17 million, up 70% from a net loss of $10.7 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dropped 7% to $794 million from $853 million last year.

The national bookseller’s Nook business, which includes digital media such as TV shows and movies, narrowed its operating loss to $330,000 from an operating loss of $2.7 million last year. Revenue dropped 14% to $25.2 million from $29.5 million last year.

“We fully realize that cutting expenses does not alone provide a path to the long-term viability of any retail business. Therefore, our short and long-term focus is to grow our top line, and, by doing so, provide us the cash flow needed to grow our business,” CEO Len Riggiosaid in a statement.

Riggio said comparable store sales continue to sequentially improve each month and continued into the second quarter. Indeed, same-store sales declines narrowed each month in the fiscal quarter from 7.8%, 6.1% and 4.5%, respectively.

“Thanks are due to our team of merchants and the entire store management group from top to bottom,” he said.


Barnes & Noble Reveals Why Its Former CEO Was Fired

Barnes & Noble Aug. 28 issued a statement disclosing why it fired CEO Demos Parneros for cause on July 3 after 16 months on the job.

In a statement from the bookseller’s board in response to a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by Parneros, the company said the suit was “nothing but an attempt to extort money by a CEO who was terminated for sexual harassment, bullying behavior and [violating] other company policies.”

The board said that after advisement from its lawyers, it “unanimously terminated” Parneros’ employment in July following a “thorough investigation” that revealed “multiple examples” of significant misconduct.

Former Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros

“Mr. Parneros not only violated his employment agreement, but also compromised the trust and respect that we strive to foster throughout our organization,” said the board. “Instead of accepting responsibility for blatantly inappropriate behavior, [Parneros] is lashing out against a former employer.”

In his complaint, Parneros alleges he was to meet with B&N chairman and founder Leonard Riggio about selling the company the day before he was fired. Instead of discussing a possible sale of the fiscally-challenged retailer, Parneros says Riggio told him he was being fired.

Parneros denies any wrongdoing.

Barnes & Noble, in its statement, made no mention of a possible sale. Instead, it reiterated that Parneros’ actions were unacceptable and not representative of the “high standards” by which Barnes & Noble operates.

“At Barnes & Noble, we are committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming, respectful and safe workplace,” said the board.



Barnes & Noble Fires CEO for Cause

Barnes & Noble July 3 announced that its board has fired CEO Demos Parneros for violations of undisclosed company policies. The national bookseller said the action was taken under advisement by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

The chain said Parneros’ termination was not due to any disagreement regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto. Parneros will not receive any severance payment and he is no longer a member of the board.

In meantime, Barnes & Noble has appointed a leadership group to share the duties of the office of the CEO until a new leader is named. They include CFO Allen Lindstrom, Tim Mantel, chief merchandising officer and Carl Hauch, VP, stores. Leonard Riggio remains executive chairman and will be involved in its management.

The bookseller, which is dealing with changing consumer habits toward book purchases and digital entertainment, said it would begin an executive search for a new CEO and that no changes in its goals or objectives are planned. Additionally, Barnes & Noble affirms its previously announced pre-tax guidance of $175 million to $200 million for fiscal 2019.

Barnes & Noble Nook Narrows Fiscal Loss

National bookseller Barnes & Noble June 21 reported that its Nook unit generated a fourth-quarter (ended April 28) operating loss of $1.5 million, compared to an operating loss of $7.9 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 22% to $25 million from $31.9 million last year.

The Nook segment, which includes electronic readers and tablets, in addition to digital content sales, was the lone bright spot for Barnes & Noble. The last-standing national bookstore chain continues to grapple with a changing consumer inundated with online entertainment, books and ecommerce.

Net income ballooned to $21 million on revenue of $786 million. That compared with a loss of $13.4 million and revenue of $821 million last year.

“In fiscal 2018, we developed a long-term strategic turnaround plan, which we continue to execute,” CEO Demos Parneros said in a statement. “Our plan, which includes sales improvements and cost reductions, is expected to yield immediate improvement in fiscal 2019, resulting in [pre-tax earnings] of $175 million to $200 million, and further benefits in the following years.

Indeed, excluding non-recurring or unusual charges in both years, consolidated pre-tax earnings topped $6.7 million in Q4, as compared to $5.6 million a year ago, and $145.4 million in fiscal 2018, as compared to $187.2 million a year ago.

The company reduced expenses by $15 million in the quarter and $52 million for the full year, excluding non-recurring or unusual charges.

“Turnaround plans take time; and while our performance has been somewhat disappointing, we began to make steady progress in fiscal ’18,” said Parneros.

Barnes & Noble Using Tech to Connect with Young Adults. But to What End?

NEWS ANALYSIS – Earlier this year Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last-standing retail book chain, reported sobering financial results, including near 6% drop in same-store sales due to lower foot traffic. Notable, since the winter holiday shopping period typically drives even non-readers to the bookstore.

The decline of the bookstore, unfortunately, mirrors much of the brick-and-mortar retail landscape. People are increasingly purchasing and consuming everything (except food and gasoline) online.

The trend among book readers, especially teens and young adults, is interesting since so much of Hollywood’s fare (Harry PotterThe Twilight Saga, Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner) is based on popular novels and book series targeting the young.

The same demo that consumes everything through a smartphone or connected device.

So, B&N May 17 launched the “YA Podcast,” featuring an interview with bestselling teen author Cassandra Clare, whose “The Mortal Instruments” series was turned into the 2013 Sony Pictures movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, starring Lily Collins.

“YA Podcast” follows the launch last year of the B&N Podcast and will feature in-depth interviews with what B&N calls the “leading voices in the vibrant teen publishing community.”

Upcoming guests include authors Renée Ahdieh, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Garber, Marisha Pessl, Rainbow Rowell and Sabaa Tahir.

The YA Podcast, which can be accessed at, iTunes and Stitcher, is hosted by YA author Melissa Albert, and will offer new episodes every two weeks, with the goal of giving readers a “fresh and unique” perspective on what is on the minds of some of their favorite authors.

“We’re launching this YA podcast to provide our customers with a new platform to delve deeper into this diverse community and hear from their favorite authors and those they might not have found otherwise,”said Stephanie Fryling, VP of merchandising, children’s books.

Fryling said publishers are requesting more content from this genre, adding a“dedicated podcast around YA is a clear response to this demand.”

But will they still buy the book at the retail store?

Barnes & Noble Narrows Q3 Loss

In an age of ecommerce, Amazon and free shipping, Barnes & Noble is putting on a brave face despite fiscal appearances of a “dead retail chain walking.”

The chain reported a third-quarter (ended Jan. 27) loss of $63.5 million, which was an improvement from a loss of $70.2 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 5.3% to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion.

Specifically, retail sales topped $1.2 billion, down from $1.27 last year. Nook segment revenue, which includes digital, consumer electronics, dropped almost 20% to $30.9 million from $38.4 million.

The declines underscored a same-store decrease of 5.8% primarily due to lower foot traffic. Alarming, considering the period included the winter holidays when even non-readers frequent bookstores – and merchandise includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies and TV shows.

“While we were disappointed with our holiday sales, comparable store sales trends did improve in January,” CEO Demos Parneros said in a statement.

Perneros is Barnes & Noble’s fourth CEO since 2013, upgrading from the COO position last April after former CEO Ronald Boire was fired.

The executive is saying all the right things, including strengthening the core business by “enhancing the customer value proposition,” improving profitability through an “aggressive expense management,” which he says will fund growth initiatives, simplify the retail experience and innovate for the future.

“We have initiated a strategic turnaround plan that is centered on growing the business and enhancing shareholder value,” Perneros said. “In the short term we are focused on stabilizing sales, improving productivity and reducing expenses.”

In February, the chain implemented a companywide expense reduction plan, including a new store labor model that provides greater flexibility by eliminating tasks and allowing employees to focus more on customers. It estimates these actions will result in annual cost savings of about $40 million.

But short of becoming Amazon, which launched as an online bookseller during the dotcom era, B&N is treading water.

Indeed, purchasing Oscar-nominee DVD, Darkest Hour, at B& costs $25.17 — and $17.96 on Amazon.

Barnes & Noble appoints Timothy Mantel Chief Merchandising Officer

Timothy Mantel has been named chief merchandising officer at Barnes & Noble, reporting to CEO Demos Parneros. In his new role, Mantel will be responsible for driving sales and profitability in all areas of merchandising within the company, including books, toys and games, gifts, newsstand, and music and entertainment.

Mantel previously held the same posotion for GNC Corporation, where he led a $2.6 billion product portfolio and helped relaunch the company’s business model. Prior to that, Mantel was SVP, food, household essentials and food service at Target Corp., where he led a $20.9 billion merchandising group with 19 teams and 320 employees.

“We are thrilled that Tim will be taking on the important role of Chief Merchandising Officer for Barnes & Noble,” Parneros said in a statement. “His deep knowledge of retail and proven track record are exactly what we need to invigorate our merchandising strategy and grow our business. He will be a great addition to our management team.”