A Barnes & Noble Inc. store in New York. (Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg)

Barnes & Noble Fires Its CEO Without Severance Pay

(Bloomberg) -- Barnes & Noble Inc. fired Chief Executive Officer Demos Parneros for violating company policies and said he’ll exit the post without severance.

A spokeswoman declined to say why he’d been terminated. It was “not due to any disagreement with the company regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The book seller will begin a search for a new CEO. In the meantime, it has appointed a leadership group to share the role’s duties until a new leader is named, including Chief Financial Officer Allen Lindstrom, Chief Merchandising Officer Tim Mantel, and Carl Hauch, vice president of stores. Leonard Riggio remains executive chairman.

Parneros, 56, just wrapped up his first year as CEO this spring. Since he took the helm last April, the stock had fallen more than 30 percent through Tuesday’s close and hit its lowest point in about a quarter century in March amid heightened competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc. Parneros said on the company’s earnings call in June that “turnaround plans take time.”

Weak Sales

Under his leadership, the company continued to flail, posting a 5.4 percent drop in same-store sales in the past fiscal year. Parneros originally backed off his predecessors’ quests to boost revenue through sales of gifts and non-book merchandise, then last month said Barnes & Noble would make a renewed effort in toys and games following the shutdown of Toys “R” Us.

His ouster comes less than two years after the August 2016 firing of CEO Ron Boire, a former head of Sears Canada. Boire was “not a good fit,” the bookseller said at the time. Riggio, who founded the modern-day version of the company in the 1970s, took over until handing control to Parneros.

High-level executives at a slew of consumer companies have been ousted in recent months amid allegations of improper conduct, including leaders at Nike Inc., Lululemon Athletica Inc., Guess? Inc. and Tapestry Inc.’s Stuart Weitzman. Barnes & Noble said the board chose to terminate Parneros under advisement by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, without specifying what prompted the action.

Before becoming CEO, Parneros had been chief operating officer since November 2016. Prior to joining the book seller, he held several leadership roles at office-supplies giant Staples Inc.

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