This week's positive third quarter results from Indigo Books & Music did not come without casualties. In spite of the strong numbers, which tracked the company's performance through December 26, 2015, it still opted to downsize in January. PW has learned that the Canadian retailer laid off roughly 20 staffers last month, including a number of veteran book buyers.
Although Indigo would not confirm details about the downsizing, a former employee estimated that 20 people were cut. The former employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said this week's headline about Indigo's strong third quarter performance "stung for a lot of people.”
The layoffs came, the source said, after Indigo brought in an outside consulting company. The consultants, who interviewed employees over the past year, ultimately recommended ways the company could consolidate its staff.
A Canadian publisher, who also wished to remain anonymous, expressed concern that the book and gift retailer's remaining book buyers will now have too many accounts to cover.
“It seems like there’s going to be fewer people doing a whole lot more work," the publisher said. “This is all a bit disheartening, because we work hard to build relationships with these people.”
One publishing insider, though, felt there could be positive things that come from the downsizing. This source noted that Indigo is merging its online and retail buying departments, so the company may actually be improving its long-term commitment to books with this move.
“There are some key people gone, and people get upset whenever there are layoffs," the source explained. “But I have spoken to some publishers who are cautiously optimistic about the changes.”
Janet Eger, Indigo’s v-p of public affairs, said that while some employees were indeed let go this month as part of an “organizational reshaping,” the layoffs were not focused on any one department.
“We want to reinforce that we have a serious and fulsome commitment to books, writers, and reading—it is the very core and most significant part of our company,” Eger said. “In fact, we are about to announce some exciting new initiatives related to this and have actually added new people to this team.”