Not all of Barnes & Noble’s investor presentation Tuesday morning dealt with digital issues. A number of executives said the company’s long-term health depends on the continued steady performance of its bricks-and-mortar stores. That health, executives said, will be aided by further consolidation in the bookstore field. B&N is “highly confident” that the industry will consolidate over the next few years, COO Mitch Klipper said. “There are 1,500 superstores now, there won’t be 1,500 five years from now,” CFO Joe Lombardi added. (B&N has about 700 superstores). B&N estimates it has a 17% share of the bookselling market, a percentage that should increase as consolidation among competitors takes hold.
B&N is contributing to the consolidation trend by exiting the small format stores and will close all its Dalton outlets by the end of January. And even though rents are relatively cheap now, Klipper said B&N is continuing to be very selective about where it opens new stores and how many it will open. Klipper acknowledged that the current retail environment has put pressure on the traditional bookstore model, but said B&N has the systems and controls in place to survive.