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Barnes & Noble Still Searching for Search Firm After CEO Ouster

The retailer hasn’t picked a recruiting firm to look for a new CEO, with Chairman Leonard Riggio temporarily filling the position.

(Bloomberg)—Barnes & Noble Inc. shareholders anxious for a new chief executive officer have some more waiting to do.

The bookseller, which ousted its CEO in July, hasn’t yet picked a recruiting firm to lead the search for a new chief, Chairman Leonard Riggio said on the sidelines of the chain’s annual shareholder meeting in New York. The company is still interviewing search firms, with the executive hunt really expected to begin in earnest next year.

“It’s not easy” to find the right person, said Riggio, who’s been acting as CEO in the meantime but doesn’t intend to keep the position. “The company needs me right now. We’ll see for how long.”

Barnes & Noble fired former CEO Demos Parneros without severance pay this summer for violating company policies, which it later clarified included sexual harassment and bullying. Parneros, a former Staples Inc. executive, sued Barnes & Noble in August, saying the company ginned up reasons to fire him after a deal to sell itself fell through. In 2016, it ousted CEO Ron Boire after less than a year, saying he wasn’t a “good fit.”

After going through so many CEOs over the past few years, Riggio said he’s getting conflicting advice on the kind of person to hire. Some argue the company should look for an executive with book or retail experience, while others say the best approach is to hire someone from outside the retailing world to revive the brand, which has posted six years of revenue declines as it tries new formats and strategies to compete with the likes of Amazon.com Inc.

Riggio said last month that there are plenty of candidates expressing interest in the chief executive spot, but the company is stepping back for now to pursue “healing.” He added Wednesday that the search will be for an external candidate, since the company’s own bench of executives is too thin.

--With assistance from Lauren Coleman-Lochner.To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anne Riley Moffat at [email protected] Lisa Wolfson

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