Barnes & Noble’s filing with the SEC for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 shows how dramatically the company is scaling back its Nook operations. During the period ended January 25, 2014, Nook capital expenditures were $7.4 million, a decline of 74% from the money spent on the group in the comparable period in fiscal 2013. For the first nine months of fiscal 2014, Nook capital expenditures were reduced 55%. The filing repeated what company executives said in the conference call last week that since making the decision to further downsize Nook on February 3, they have cut 75 jobs (190 jobs have been eliminated in all at Nook in the fiscal year).
While it is cutting investment in Nook, B&N is upping resources in the retail trade stores. For the first nine months of the current fiscal year, B&N increased capital expenditures to the trade segment by 43%, spending $45.7 million over the period. B&N operated 663 retail trade stores at the end of January and said in the filing that while it may open some new stores in the future it expects to see a net reduction in the number of outlets.
B&N’s investment is following where customers are spending money. Sales of “media”—physical books, movies, music, and magazines—fell 6% in the quarter but accounted for 67% of sales, up from 64% in the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Sales of other products, which includes B&N’s growing toys and games business plus café and college apparel, had a 3% sales increase and accounted form 24% of sales, up from 21%. Sales of digital products—hardware, accessories and “econtent”--fell 46% and comprised 9% of revenue in the most recent quarter, down from 15%.
The filing also noted that B&N continues to work toward selling e-books in 10 international markets, as mandated in its deal with Microsoft. While B&N has launched the Nook app for Windows 8.1 in 32 countries, B&N acknowledged that effort has not reached the “content thresholds” called for by the Microsoft contract. B&N said it is adding more content and that it expects to be in compliance with the threshold by the end of its fiscal year this April, but until it achieves the necessary level, the delay (the original target date was June 30, 2013), “may entitle Microsoft to defer a portion of advance payments until the target expansion requirement is met.” Microsoft is paying B&N $25 million annually for five years to help with the international expansion.