During its annual meeting held Tuesday morning at its flagship store in New York City, Barnes Noble chairman Len Riggio supported its new CEO, Demos Parneros who was named to his current role in April.
During the meeting, Riggio called Parneros “the perfect fit” to help the company grow its top line and improve profits. Observing that Parneros “has brought lots of energy to the company,” Riggio said he is looking forward to watching the executive over the next few years, noting that Parneros shares his vision and will revive BN “store by store.”
Parneros took over for Riggio this spring, after Riggio stepped into the role of interim CEO following Ron Boire’s dismissal in August 2016. Boire was fired after less than one year on the job.
During the 45-minute meeting, no update was given on the overture by new BN investor Sandell Asset Management that the retailer should consider selling itself.
Riggio and other BN executives who spoke at the meeting, including Parneros, emphasized that the company is looking to shrink the size of its stores, with Riggio observing that it is unlikely the company would open a store the size of its flagship location in Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood.
Riggio also assured shareholders that BN is no longer in the tech business. While the Nook e-reader and e-books will remain a part of the company’s offerings to customers, bricks and mortar stores will be its focus. Riggio explained that when e-book sales began exploding several years ago, BN felt it had no choice but to enter the digital market. In retrospect, Riggio said, BN didn’t have the culture or financing to compete with the likes of Amazon and Google.
Instead, according to Riggio, BN will focus on its physical stores and will partner with technology companies to keep a presence in the digital space. “There is no business model in technology” for BN, Riggio acknowledged.