Amid struggles to find profitability, Barnes & Noble, the country's largest physical book retailer, has fired its CEO, Ron Boire. The former head of Sears Canada, who was hired in July 2015, was described as "not a good fit for the organization" in a brief statement issued by B&N's board of directors.
As a result of Boire's abrupt departure, Len Riggio, B&N's founder and chairman, is postponing his retirement. Riggio announced earlier this year his intention to step down in September. Now, he will now stay on at the company indefinitely while it searches for Boire's replacement.
Boire's dismissal comes amid a tough stretch for the retailer, which has been trying to find a successful model for its core business: bricks and mortar bookselling. After announcing plans to downsize its Nook division--the arm of the company responsible for its dedicated e-reader--B&N has attempted to reinvigorate its physical stores. One approach the retailer has touted is investing in "concept stores" which will feature larger cafes that, among other things, serve alcohol. One of B&N's new concept stores is currently being built in Eastchester, NY.
But B&N's most recent financial results were disappointing. In June, the company reported total revenue for 2016 was down by 3.1%, with a net loss of $24.4 million. The losses were blamed on, among other things, store closures, declining sales at BN.com and dropping Nook sales.
For many in the publishing industry, Boire's dismissal comes as a shock, and a disappointment. A number of insiders said that, ultimately, the CEO shuffle will cause further problems for the embattled retailer.
The head of one large publisher said he was angered to hear the news, pointing out that finding and building a new executive team will set B&N back by six months. "I need them to execute on the ground" during the holidays, this publisher said.
Another high level publishing executive said he was surprised about the move since Boire "seemed to have a plan."
Looking to the future, another insider said he hoped B&N's next CEO will be better suited to the company and "will have book experience," as opposed to just "general retailing" experience.
This story has been updated to include publisher reaction to Boire's dismissal.