05 May 2017
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Barnes & Noble Names Demos Parneros CEO

Staples veteran tapped to help turn around bookseller

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Photo by Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Demos Parneros (AMP78, 2010), who had been working as Barnes & Noble’s COO for the last five months, has been named the booksellers new CEO. A story in the New York Times details the company’s recent struggles, which includes everything from executive turnover to sagging revenues. “The biggest challenge is the sales performance; that’s no secret,” Parneros told the Times. “We’ve got to figure out ways to change things up a little bit and increase traffic.”

Parneros told the Times that he sees strengths in the company’s expansion in educational products and in its new concept stores that feature full-service restaurants. The changes are in reaction to a market that, as the Times notes, is in flux:

After decades of decline, independent bookstores have rebounded. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,775 member stores in 2016, up from 1,410 in 2010. And Amazon has made an ambitious push into physical retail, with six new stores around the country and six more scheduled to open this year.

James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester, said Barnes & Noble needed to innovate to survive, and quickly. “You’re never going to be that mass brand in every mall anymore because malls are gone,” he said.

Parneros comes to the job with a long career in retail:

Born in Cyprus, Mr. Parneros moved to New York City when he was in elementary school and spoke no English when he arrived. He attended New York University and joined Staples, the office supplies company, in 1987, when it had just four stores. He rose to president of Staples North American Stores and online, overseeing 1,800 stores and the web business.

Before he joined Barnes & Noble in November, he visited dozens of stores around the country to get a feel for the company.

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