For Barnes & Noble, ‘Healing' Comes Before Hiring Its Next CEO

(Bloomberg) -- There’s no shortage of candidates for the vacant position of chief executive officer at Barnes & Noble Inc., according to Chairman Len Riggio. But before hiring one, the company needs “healing.”

“So right now, we’re not looking,” Riggio said on a conference call Thursday following the release of quarterly results that sent shares plunging. “As far as the candidates are concerned, there is no shortage of people who are applying for the job, I can tell you that.”

For Barnes & Noble, ‘Healing' Comes Before Hiring Its Next CEO

The company plans to discuss the search at an Oct. 3 board meeting, which will determine who will oversee the process and when it will start.

Barnes & Noble is looking to move past a bitter split with former CEO Demos Parneros. Riggio reiterated on the call that Parneros was fired without severance due to “multiple events of significant misconduct including sexual harassment, bullying behavior and other violations of company policies.” He labeled a subsequent lawsuit filed by Parneros as “nothing but a smokescreen in an attempt to extort money from the company.”

Whoever ends up taking the reins will inherit a chain that has seen revenue contract every quarter for more than four years as consumers turn to Amazon.com Inc. and other competitors for book sales. The company has also experienced six straight quarters of operating losses.

The retailer’s performance has stabilized this summer, however. Barnes & Noble said that steep declines in same-store sales have lessened through August.

For Barnes & Noble, ‘Healing' Comes Before Hiring Its Next CEO

“We have finally stopped the bleeding with respect to our comparable-sales decreases and we believe we’ve developed strong momentum going in a positive direction,” Riggio said. “We feel that this momentum will carry through our all-important third quarter and put us on target to achieve our sales and earnings forecast for the full year.”

Barnes & Noble shares fell as much as 8.1 percent to $4.55 on Thursday, the most intraday in two months. Through Wednesday’s close, they had dropped 26 percent this year.

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