Barnes & Noble Taps Sears Canada Head to Be CEO After Split

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Michael Huseby
Current Barnes & Noble Inc. CEO Michael Huseby. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Barnes & Noble Inc. named Sears Canada Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ron Boire to become the bookstore chain’s next top executive after it spins off its education business.

Current CEO Michael Huseby will become executive chairman of the college-bookstore unit, the New York-based company said Thursday in a statement.

Boire brings Barnes & Noble experience with toys and electronics, which may help it build on Huseby’s efforts to add more non-book merchandise and compete with Amazon.com Inc. Before leading Sears Canada, Boire held positions at Brookstone Inc., Toys “R” Us Inc., Best Buy Co. and Sony Electronics Inc.

“Barnes & Noble has got to keep broadening its base,” said John Tinker, an analyst at Maxim Group who recommends buying Barnes & Noble shares. “The message here is, they’re not just a bookstore.”

Huseby, a former Cablevision Systems Corp. executive, took over as CEO in January 2014. During his short tenure, he worked to stem losses at the Nook e-book division and inked agreements with Samsung Electronics Co. to make co-branded tablets and with Google Inc.’s shopping service for same-day delivery.

Barnes & Noble rose 1 percent to $25.99 at the close in New York on Thursday. The shares have gained 12 percent this year, compared with a 0.9 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Sears Canada

Sears Canada, based in Toronto, said it will begin a search for Boire’s replacement. Boire took over as acting CEO in October and was named to the job permanently about three months later.

Barnes & Noble is spinning off the college unit, which will be called Barnes & Noble Education, so it can focus on helping its retail business adapt to the rising popularity of digital books and online shopping. The company has said it expects the split to take place by the end of August.

“Huseby’s done a great job,” Tinker said. However, “he always was very clear he thought college had the growth prospects and that’s where he wants to go.”

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