Barnes & Noble Looks to New Leader to Save NOOK

In News by Edward Nawotka

Barnes and Noble

Ronald Boire, a man with plenty of electronics experience, is taking over as CEO of Barnes and Noble, as the bookseller spins off its education division.

By Edward Nawotka

Depending on your memory, you might recall a time when Borders Books and Music tried a rosters of revolving executives to raise its fortunes. It’s never a good sign. In 2001, Greg Josefowicz, the former president of Jewel-Ocso, a division of the grocery store and pharmacy chain Albertson’s, added the title of Chairman of Borders Group to his list of titles, which had already included president and CEO and of the company. The company then went through several more executives before, as we all know, finally calling it quits in 2011.

Too many executive changes is never a good sign. So, what of Barnes & Noble, America’s dominant bookseller?

Barnes & Noble has been going through some serious changes as well. For starters, B&N has redesigned its website, as announced late last month. And, in a blockbuster move, the company plans to spinoff of its profitable college operations as Barnes & Noble Education, taking with it B&N’s current CEO Michael P. Huseby, who became CEO in January 2014. The spinoff is expected to happen sometime next month.

B&N chairman Len Riggio said that under Huseby’s leadership, “we have improved the performance of all of our business segments and he has helped put the company in a position to separate the college and retail businesses. Mike will now bring his financial and strategic leadership to the separate Barnes & Noble Education company.”

Now Ronald D. Boire, current president and CEO of Sears Canada (where has been for just 10 months), will become CEO of Barnes & Noble, Inc. His mission: revive NOOK, which has seen small revival of fortune since a deal was announced with Samsung a year ago to take over development of the device. Nook’s Q1 sales fell 40% in Q1 and 48% for the last full fiscal year, but losses have narrowed.

Boire’s previous experience includes roles as president and CEO of Brookstone; president, North America, of Toys R Us; executive VP, global merchandise manager for Best Buy; and he worked at Sony Electronics for 17 years, where he was, president of Sony’s personal mobile products company and president of the consumer sales company, among other positions.

His experience looks to be a good fit. But will it work? Time will tell.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.