Barnes & Noble (BKS) is once again looking for a new CEO.
The struggling retailer said on Tuesday that it had terminated Chief Executive Demos Parneros for unspecified “violations” of the company’s policies, ending a 14-month stint at the helm of the largest U.S. bookstore chain. Parneros, who joined Barnes & Noble in late 2016 as operations chief before becoming its fourth CEO in four years a few months later, will not get a severance package and is no longer on its board.
The company said the termination was not related to any disagreement with Parneros over “financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud.” A spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the press release.
Parneros’ departure creates a new period of uncertainty in the company’s corner office: Parneros immediate predecessor Ron Boire was ousted in 2016 after less than a year after the company said he was not a “good fit.” Leonard Riggio, the founder and executive chairman of the company, stepped in for a few months as interim CEO before Parneros’ took the reins. Perneros had previously been a long time employee of Staples (SPLS).
On Parneros’ watch, Barnes & Noble continued to struggle, with comparable sales down 5.4% in the fiscal year ended in late April 2018, despite a stable environment for book sales in the industry. The company lost $125.5 million last fiscal year on sale of $3.67 billion, compared to a profit of $22 million the year before. On his watch, Barnes & Noble’s already depressed shares fell 30%.
Parneros had plans to gradually update Barnes & Noble’s 630-store fleet with smaller stores and more cafes. But while the test stores with cafes and alcohol have shown promise, they are too few in number to move the needle quickly. In late 2017, Barnes & Noble said it would exit some gift and toy products, and focus more on its core bookselling business. At the same time, Barnes & Noble struggled to get book buyers to shop on its web site, with Amazon.com (AMZN) dominating digital bookselling. What’s more, Amazon has begun to build out a few bookstores of its own.
The company said that until a new CEO is named, it will be run by an “office of the CEO” made up of finance chief Allen Lindstrom, chief merchant Tim Mantel, and head of stores Carl Hauch. Riggio will also be involved, the company said. Until such time, there are “no changes in its goals or objectives are planned,” Barnes & Noble said.
Barnes & Noble’s decision to fire Parneros action was taken by the company’s board of directors, which was were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.