Can Barnes & Noble afford to take it easy over the holidays?
For a long time, it has been clear that Barnes & Noble needs to do something drastic to get back on track — but the chain won’t be taking that step this holiday season.
The anticipated big strategic pivot planned by new Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt remains in the offing while the bookseller continues with a business as usual approach this holiday season, according to an article on Good E-Reader. Mr. Daunt told that publication in a comment that the chain is currently “following someone else’s plan” with the seasonal books and holiday store fixtures already purchased for the year.
Incremental changes implemented up to this point have failed to yield meaningful positive results and the CEO noted that he would rather spend money on a 2020 chainwide store refurbishment rather than a holiday ad campaign. Mr. Daunt has, however, pursued some small, key steps to the chain’s reinvention, such as launching a “Book of the Year” contest meant to reestablish the chain as a tastemaker actively creating and recommending bestsellers.
One of the major changes Mr. Daunt plans to implement in the long run, according to an article on Publishers Weekly, is to return more control of what appears on store shelves to local managers, rather than depending on national planograms.
Mr. Daunt joined Barnes & Noble in August of 2019, after successfully turning around U.K. bookseller Waterstones within four years of his starting as that chain’s CEO in 2011, according to Inc.
Shortly before Mr. Daunt’s arrival, Barnes & Noble made a few moves to try to re-carve a place for itself in a market now split between the convenient experience of online sellers and the friendly, specialized experience of indie bookstores.
Last October, Barnes & Noble announced the launch of a 17,400 square-foot prototype experiential location in Chicago, with plans to open six of the locations nationwide. A year earlier, the chain announced plans to pare down its average location size down from 26,000 square feet, while experimenting with various different concept sizes. And in 2016 it explored the concept of full in-store restaurants serving alcohol in a few stores.
- Barnes and Noble is not going change anything for the Holiday Season – Good E-Reader
- Barnes and Noble’s New CEO Just Revealed a Brilliant Plan to Save the Company – Inc.
- B&N’s James Daunt Isn’t Daunted At All – Publishers Weekly
- Is it too late for a new store concept from Barnes & Noble? – RetailWire
- Barnes & Noble wants to get smaller, more bookish – RetailWire
- Barnes & Noble to sell beer and wine in new concept stores – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will “following someone else’s plan” during the current holiday season affect James Daunt’s ability to turn Barnes & Noble around over the long-term? Which direction do you expect Mr. Daunt to take with the chain, and do you anticipate success?