Barnes & Noble announced Tuesday afternoon that it has fired ceo Demos Parneros “for violations of the company’s policies.” The statement says the “termination is not due to any disagreement with the company regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud.” The board was advised by law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in the matter. In another sign of the severity of Parneros’s violations, he will not receive any severance payment.
Parneros’s contract provides a relatively small set of circumstances that can constitute cause for dismissal, suggesting that the issue relates to: “dishonesty, embezzlement, misappropriation, moral turpitude or other intentional misconduct in connection with the performance of your employment duties and responsibilities that is injurious to the Company or its business or reputation; [or] your abuse of or dependency on alcohol or drugs (illicit or otherwise) that adversely affects your job performance.”
The company named a “leadership group” to share the duties of the office of the CEO until a new executive is hired. That group comprises cfo Allen Lindstrom, cmo Tim Mantel, and vp, stores Carl Hauch.
Parneros has been ceo since April 2017, the last in a long line of undistinguished leaders of the bookseller. He was preceded by Ron Boire, who lasted less than a year; Mike Huseby, who ran the company for about a year and a half, up to the value-evaporating split of B&N and BN Education, after taking over from William Lynch (architect of Nook). The board would be wise to have a truly independent group of directors pick a new ceo without relying on the wishes of chairman Len Riggio.
Elsewhere, Nicole Otto has been promoted to associate editor of Imprint. Weslie Turner has joined as associate editor; she was previously assistant editor at Scholastic.