B&N fires c.e.o. after company policy 'violations'

B&N fires c.e.o. after company policy 'violations'

Barnes & Noble (B&N) has abruptly fired another c.e.o.

In a brief statement released on Tuesday afternoon (3rd July), the American bookstore chain said Demos Parneros was sacked for “violations of the company’s policies” after just 15 months in role, according to Publishers Weekly. The news means the fast turnover of chief executives continues at the beleaguered US chain.

The firm did not specify the nature of the violations but said it was not due “to any disagreement with the company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto”. Parneros will not receive severance, B&N said, and his removal was managed by its board of directors who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. 

Parneros was named c.e.o. in April 2017 after serving briefly as c.o.o. of the company. He replaced founder Len Riggio, who had served as c.e.o. after Ron Boire was fired in August 2016, after less than one year on the job, because he was not what B&N described as “a good fit for the organisation”. Boire was the third c.e.o. to leave the retailer in three years: Michael P Huseby resigned in July 2015 and received $10.5m (£8m) severance payment while William Lynch stepped down in July 2013.

B&N said it would begin a search for a new chief executive and that a leadership team would share the responsibilities until a suitable candidate was found. The current team includes Allen Lindstrom, chief financial officer; Tim Mantel, chief merchandising officer; and Carl Hauch, v-p, stores, to lead the company. Riggio remains B&N executive chairman and will be involved in its management.

During his brief tenure, Parneros was unable to turn around B&N’s downward sales trend, though it did initiate a number of plans that cut costs. Parneros also brought in a number of new executives, and the company is preparing to open five new prototype stores this fall that it apparently hopes will be a better fit for the current retail environment.

The retailer was described as being in "dire straits” in a report from The Bookseller in May. The stock is reportedly less than a fifth of its 2006 price before e-books and Amazon came on the scene. Since then, stores have seen 11 years of declining sales and dozens of closures while a round of lay-offs was announced in February to save $40m annually.

The retail giant's history can be traced back to 1873 when Charles M Barnes started the business in his Illinois home, a century before  Riggio acquired the flagship 'Barnes & Noble' trade name and built up the business.