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Barnes & Noble CEO quits on back of Nook losses


Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is without a CEO after the resignation of William Lynch announced Monday. The resignation has immediate effect.

The move comes a matter of days after the firm announced a 34 per cent year-on-year drop in the sales of e-books and devices, leading to the company’s Nook division recording a $177 million loss for the quarter. The losses culminated in the retailer's decision to stop making its own Nook colour touchscreen tablets, announcing the manufacturing would be farmed out to a third party.

Lynch came to the United States biggest book retailer with a background in e-commerce at a time when the bookstore chain was seeking to make in-roads into the online selling so successfully pioneered by competitor Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Lynch’s most recent position before his stint as CEO was as president of Barnes & Noble.com. Prior to this, he had experience running the ancillary website of Home Shopping Network, and IAC’s Gifts.com.

However, converting a bricks-and-mortar retailer to an online seller proved tricky, with the bookstore’s most recent quarter reporting a loss of more than $118 million, widening the previous year’s losses by as much again, with a 9 per cent drop in revenue stemming from e-books also recorded.

Lynch has also resigned as a director of the company.

The company’s former chief financial officer, Michael Huseby, is stepping up to fill the CEO slot of Nook Media LLC and president of Barnes & Noble, Inc., with Allen Londstrom taking over for him as corporate CFO.

“We thank William Lynch for helping transform Barnes & Noble into a leading digital content provider and for leading in the development of our award-winning line of NOOK products including NOOK Simple Touch, NOOK Simple Touch Glowlight, and NOOK HD and NOOK HD+,” said chairman Leonard Riggio in a company statement released with the announcement.

“As the bookselling industry continues to undergo significant transformation, we believe that Michael, Mitchell [Klipper, CEO of the Barnes & Noble Retail Group] and Max [ J. Roberts, CEO of Barnes & Noble College] are the right executives to lead us into the future.”

The company statement added that Barnes & Noble is in the process of reviewing its current strategic plan and will provide an update “when appropriate.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve as CEO of this terrific company over the last three years,” said Lynch, quoted in the same company statement.

“There is a great executive team and Board in place at Barnes & Noble, and I look forward to the many innovations the Company will be bringing to its millions of physical and digital media customers in the future.”

Shares in Barnes and Noble were up 24 cents in pre-market trading Tuesday, the day after the announcement, from a previous close of $17.66 on Monday.

Quick facts: Barnes & Noble Education

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Market: NYSE
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