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Barnes & Noble fires its CEO without severance pay

Barnes & Noble fires its CEO without severance pay
Barnes & Noble said its CEO's firing was “not due to any disagreement with the company regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud.” (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Barnes & Noble Inc. said it has fired Chief Executive Demos Parneros for violating company policies and he’ll exit the post without severance.

A spokeswoman declined to say why Parneros was terminated. The company said in a statement that it was “not due to any disagreement with the company regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud.”

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

Parneros just wrapped up his first year on the job as CEO this spring. Since he took the helm in April 2017, the stock had fallen more than 30% through Tuesday’s close; in March, it hit its lowest point in about 25 years 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.”

Under his leadership, the company continued to flail, posting a 5.4% drop in same-store sales in the last 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 after the shutdown of Toys R Us.

His ouster comes less than two years after the August 2016 firing of Barnes & Noble 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 at the advice of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, without specifying what prompted the action.

Before becoming CEO, Parneros had been chief operating officer since November 2016. Before joining Barnes & Noble, he held several leadership roles at office-supplies giant Staples Inc.

2:55 p.m.: This article was updated with additional background information.

This article was originally published at 2:15 p.m.

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