Barnes & Noble names Michael Huseby as new CEO

Huseby had been in charge of the Nook division since resignation of former CEO Lynch in July

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 8, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/343c

Barnes and Noble has been without a CEO for some time now, following the resignation of William Lynch back in July of last year. Now the company has finally appointed someone to its top spot, and it might be a signal of where the company sees its future.

Michael Huseby has been appointed as the new CEO of Barnes and Noble, it was announced on Wednesday. He has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors.

Following Lynch's departure Huseby had been named CEO of Nook Media, while also being promoted to the Barnes & Noble presidency. Huseby joined Barnes & Noble in  March of 2012 as Chief Financial Officer, after serving as Executive Vice President and CFO of Cablevision Systems Corporation.

The appointment of Huseby to the top position could be a signal that Barnes and Noble is ready to double down on its commitment to the digital side of the business, as well as to the Nook tablet, despite struggling sales. 

In fact, struggling Nook sales are thought to be part of the reason that Lynch gave up his position last year.

At the time of his departure, Barnes and Noble reported a fourth quarter net loss of $118.6 million, compared to $56.9 million the same quarter the year before. Net losses for the 2013 fiscal year totaled $154.8 million, compared to $65.6 million the year before.

At the heart of those losses was Nook, whose revenues declined a full 34% in the fourth quarter to $108 million, and 16.8% for the whole year to $776 million.

And things have gotten no better since then. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Barnes and Noble reported that the Nook segment of the business saw revenues of $109 million for the quarter, down over 32% year to year.

Digital content sales were $57 million for the quarter, a decline of 21.2% compared to a year before, while device and accessories sales were $51 million for the quarter, a decrease of 41.3%.

Still, given Huseby's experience with the Nook division, as well as his years at Cablevision, it would be odd for the company to not take advantage of his expertise in digital media. Combine that with the company's plan to close down over 200 stores in the next decade or so, it will have no other choice but to make that part of the business profitable, or else it will become another Borders. 

VatorNews reached out to Barnes and Noble to find out if Huseby's appointment is a signal of a move toward more investing in the company's digital unit, but a spokesperson declined to elaborate any further on what this means for the company's direction.

Huseby sounded a positive note following his appointment, saying that "the company is well positioned to maintain and grow its leadership position in the worlds of bookselling and the sale of digital media.:

"My role, as I see it, is to enhance and unlock the value of these businesses for our shareholders," Huseby said in a statement.

"We are well-positioned in today’s dynamic reading and learning markets and confident in our ability to provide our customers with the best content offerings, digital media and educational products available in today’s marketplace."

(Image source: http://milestonebrand.com)

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