Barnes & Noble Hires Toys ‘R’ Us Executive to Run E-Commerce

Fred Argir
Barnes & Noble's new Chief Digital Officer Fred Argir. Source: Barnes & Noble via Business Wire

Barnes & Noble Inc. named Toys “R” Us Inc. executive Fred Argir as its chief digital officer, putting him in charge of online sales and the long-struggling Nook e-reader business.

Argir, who also served as digital chief at Toys “R” Us, will begin on July 30, Barnes & Noble said in a statement on Monday. Mahesh Veerina, head of the Nook consumer business, will be leaving the company on Feb. 1.

The announcement comes just weeks after Barnes & Noble filed plans for the spinoff of its college-bookstore unit. That move increases pressure to shape up the remaining operations, which include Barnes & Noble’s bookstore chain, its e-commerce site and the Nook business. The Nook has lost ground to Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-reader, prompting Barnes & Noble to pare back its investment in the division.

“Fred’s proven track record for driving organizations to high levels of performance and profitability make him an ideal choice to run our e-commerce and Nook businesses,” Chief Operating Officer Jaime Carey said in a statement. When Argir takes the new job, he will report to Carey.

The company’s Nook revenue declined 40 percent last quarter. The business’s device and accessories sales fell 48 percent, and digital-content sales dropped almost 37 percent. In an effort to rein in its costs, Barnes & Noble outsourced the production of Nook devices to Samsung Electronics Co. last year.

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