Barnes & Noble wants to get smaller, more bookish
Barnes & Noble originated in 1886 as a small bookstore named Arthur Hinds & Company located in the Cooper Union Building in New York City. Known in more recent decades for the development and proliferation of big box bookstores, the retailer is now looking back to a smaller presence.
“We believe that our store base today is too big at roughly 26,000 square feet per store and we believe that the future store format will be much smaller than that,” said Demos Parneros, CEO, last week on its second-quarter conference call with analysts.
Mr. Parneros said the company continues to test a variety of format sizes, running from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet, and has just opened a 10,000-square-foot prototype in Plano, TX. He said, “They all have the consistent look and feel, which is our new look that we’re thrilled with and more importantly customers love and are giving us that feedback.”
Barnes & Noble had 632 stores at the close of its third quarter and approximately 120 leases come up for renewal annually. The goal is to be “net positive” across stores starting in 2018. The preference is to relocate or downsize if possible to “give customers a brand new store that’s exciting and different and reflects our newest thinking.”
The smaller format focus comes as Barnes & Noble plans reduce its assortments of gift, toys and games to reemphasize books. The retailer in the past had touted its success diversifying and has benefited from hot trends like coloring books and vinyl records, as noted by Fortune. But the extensions “got a little bit off track,” said Mr. Parneros last week and non-book categories are now generally underperforming. B&N will narrow its assortments to categories with a higher turnover, primarily books.
“It’s simply who we are,” said Mr. Parneros. “I mean that’s our heritage. That’s what customers expect from us. If in doubt, we go and listen to our customers. We’ve been listening very carefully to our customers for many, many years. We’ve done recent research that reinforces and validates that and we want to be the best at selling books.”
- Barnes & Noble Reports Fiscal 2018 Second Quarter Financial Results – Barnes & Noble
- Barnes & Noble’s Q2 2018 Conference Call – Seeking Alpha
- Why Barnes & Noble Wants Smaller Stores – Fortune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do smaller stores and a greater emphasis on books make sense for Barnes & Noble’s future? What qualities present in its larger stores should Barnes & Noble hold on to?