Richards Resigns at B&T, Tolworthy Leaves B&N
Jim Milliot &Ed Nawotka -- 1/22/01

Two high-placed executives with major industry companies left their positions January 12: Craig Richards and Tom Tolworthy resigned from Baker & Taylor and Barnes & Noble, respectively.

Richards, who had been CEO of both Baker & Taylor and its sister company, Infomata, said in a memo to employees that his decision to leave was "based entirely upon my personal desire to head in a new direction." Richards had been with B&T for nearly nine years, but told employees he "was convinced the time is right for me to leave." Gary Rautenstrauch, who was promoted to president and chief operating officer of B&T in December, has been put in charge of all day-to-day operations, and all executives who reported to Richards, including those with Infomata, will report to Rautenstrauch.

In his memo, Richards noted that "while B&T continues to face tremendous challenges in its business, I am confident the company is positioned to succeed in realizing the opportunities before it." Richards added that the company's management "has a clear understanding of where the company must head."

Although there was speculation that Richards's departure was tied to his inability to find a buyer for the wholesaler at a price acceptable to the company's parent firm, the holding company Carlyle Group, Jim Ulsamer, president of B&T Retail & International, told PW that Richards will be moving West, where some of his children live. "He had been contemplating leaving for a while," Ulsamer noted.

Carlyle has owned B&T since 1992 and a sale to Follett Corp. was called off at the last minute in 1994. B&T attempted to go public in late 1999, but a public offering was never completed, with the company citing soft market conditions.

Tom Tolworthy has left Barnes & Noble, after nearly 12 years. Tolworthy had been president of Barnes & Noble Booksellers since 1995, a position that put him in charge of all of B&N superstores; he had no responsibility for the company's Dalton outlets. A company spokesperson would not comment on who is assuming Tolworthy's duties until a successor is named. "We don't comment on our business plans," the spokesperson said.