Total revenue at Barnes & Noble fell 1.5%, compared to last year’s first period, in the first quarter ended August 1, 2015. Revenue at the book chain fell to $1.2 billion; the net loss increased to $34.9 million, from $28.4 million. Results include sales and earnings from Barnes & Noble’s college division which was spun off into a separate company the day after the close of the quarter.
In B&N’s retail and Nook divisions, which comprise B&N going forward, sales fell in both segments: retail sales fell 1.7%, to $939 million, while Nook sales dropped to $54.3 million, from $70.0 million. Retail EBITDA fell to $45.1 million, from $66.1 million, and the EBITDA loss at Nook increased to $17.4 million, from $4.6 million.
B&N noted that last year's lower EBITDA loss at Nook was due to some one-time items and that the segment’s administrative costs fell by $10 million as B&N continues to downsize the Nook unit. In a prepared statement, B&N CFO Allen Lindstrom said that the company plans to “further reduce Nook expenses through synergies with the retail business.” Within the Nook unit, hardware sales fell 6.2% in the quarter, to $17 million, while sales of digital content declined 28.0%, to $37 million.
In the retail segment, which includes the bookstores and BN.com, the decline in revenue was attributed to store closures,(one store was closed in the period), lower online sales and lower warranty reimbursements. (With reimbursement, last year included $7.3 million of warranty reimbursements, compared to $2.5 million this year.)
A bright spot for the company was comparable store sales, which rose 1.1% for the quarter; they benefited from growth in non-book categories led by toys and games which had a 17.5% increase. “Core” comparable bookstore sales, which exclude sales of Nook products, increased 1.0% for the quarter, though comp sales of books fell slightly. The strongest sellers among this quarter’s titles included Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and E. L. James’ Grey; these books helped offset comparisons to the strong young adult titles in the prior year, such as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.
B&N said it still expects that, for the remainder of fiscal 2016, core comp store sales will rise by 1% and that its loses in Nook will decline.
Jamie Carey, chief operating officer, said that in addition to cutting Nook costs, B&N hopes to increase Nook sales by continuing to sell hardware sales (last week, B&N announced the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK), and is also looking to increase the number of downloads for the Nook reading app and to find a third-party partner to widen the distribution of Nook's content.