Riggio Suspends Efforts to Buy B&N; 1st Quarter Sales Fall, Losses Rise

Barnes & Noble executives today revealed that sales fell and losses increased in the latest quarter, which ended July 27, and unveiled future plans that run counter to what many observers have been expecting: The company will revitalize, not spinoff, the Nook business and chairman Leonard Riggio has suspended his efforts to buy the company’s bookstores.

“We want the consumer to know that the company intends to design and develop innovative new black and white and color Nook devices,” Michael Huseby, president of Barnes & Noble and chief executive of its Nook Media unit said this morning during a conference call discussing B&N’s financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2014. He also said the company will step up marketing of digital books to Nook users.

Overall, company revenue fell nearly 9%, compared to last year’s first quarter, to $1.33 billion. That included a decline of 10 percent to $1 billion at retail stores. More ominously–same store sales fell 9.1%. Executives blamed much of that decline on tough comparisons with the previous year when The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey franchises send sales soaring, but said even excluding those series same store sales slid 2.9%.

Nook revenue fell 39% to $143 million.

One bright spot: sales at college bookstores rose 5% to $226 million.

The company’s net loss for the quarter totaled $87 million, compared with a loss of $39.8 million for the same period last year.

In a separate filing with the SEC Tuesday, Riggio said:

“While I reserve the right to pursue an offer in the future, I believe it is in the company’s best interests to focus on the business at hand. Right now our priority should be to serve the more than 10 million customers who own Nook devices, to concentrate on building our Retail business, and to accelerate the sale of Nook products in our stores, and in the marketplace.”

The announcements came one day after the retailer and S&S said they had finally resolved a long-running dispute.

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