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Barnes & Noble names new CEO — its fourth in four years

BY Marianne Wilson

Barnes & Noble has ended its quest for a new chief executive with an in-house promotion.

The struggling bookseller named Demos Parneros as CEO, effective immediately. Parneros, who has served as COO of Barnes & Noble since November 2016, is a longtime Staples veteran. Prior to joining Barnes & Noble, he was president of North American stores & online for the office supply giant.

Parneros succeeds Leonard Riggio, the company’s founder and largest shareholder, who will remain chairman of the board. Riggio had been set to retire when he took the reins of the company in August 2016 when CEO Ronald D. Boire, who had been chief executive for less than a year, was fired.

“It has become abundantly clear over the last five months that Demos is a perfect fit for our company and an outstanding choice for chief executive officer,” said Riggio. “He is highly respected by our board of directors and our leadership team, and I believe Demos is fully prepared to help foster a new era of growth for Barnes & Noble.”

Parneros joined Staples in 1987 as a general manager and worked his way up through ranks, serving in a variety of management and executive positions. He has his work cut out for him at Barnes & Noble, which has struggled with declining sales amid online competition and steep losses in its digital products.

In its most recent quarter, the bookseller reported an 8% decline in sales, to $1.3 billion. Sales of digital content and devices fell plunged nearly 26%.

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HSNi on hunt for new CEO as Mindy Grossman leaves retail for…

BY Marianne Wilson

One of the retail industry’s most high-profile and powerful female executives has been tapped as CEO of Weight Watchers International.

Mindy Grossman will step down as chief executive of HSNi effective May 24. She will take the reins as president and CEO of Weight Watchers, effective in July, and will also join the Weight Watchers board at that time.

Grossman served as CEO of HSNi from 2000 to 2017. (The company has two operating divisions: HSN and Cornerstone, whose brands include Ballard, Front Gate and Garnet Hill.) She is credited with putting a more modern face on the brand and transforming it into a major force in e-commerce. Digital commerce now accounts for over half of its $4 billion annual revenue.

The company has hired a national search firm to assist with the search for Grossman’s successor that will include internal and external candidates. In addition, it has established an “office of the chief executive,” whose members will manage the company’s day-to-day operations until a successor is named. It will consist of Rod R. Little, CFO; William C. Brand, chief marketing officer of HSNi and president of HSN; and Judy A. Schmeling, COO of HSNi and president of Cornerstone Brands.

“On behalf of the board, we thank Mindy for her visionary leadership and many contributions to our company during a transformative period in its history,” said board chairman Arthur Martinez. “She has been a committed partner to the board in the development of important initiatives that have created a solid foundation for the future. We will miss her energy, creativity and passion for our company, and wish her success in her future endeavors.”

Grossman’s earlier career highlights include serving as global VP at Nike, president and CEO of Polo Jeans Company, VP of new business development at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., president of Chaps Ralph Lauren, and senior VP of menswear for Warnaco, Inc. She also held senior positions at Tommy Hilfiger and Oxford Industries. Grossman currently serves as chairman of the National Retail Federation board of directors.

Weight Watchers has been without a CEO since last September when Jim Chambers resigned. It has been led by an interim CEO team.

"I am thrilled to join Weight Watchers and lead the next phase of the company's transformation,” Grossman said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage technology and consumer insights to create innovative personal experiences, build loyal communities and accelerate growth. Ultimately, the ability to inspire people to live healthier and happier lives is what excites me both personally and professionally.”

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Online marketplace’s styling service gets personal

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Poshmark is expanding its one-to-one shopping experience.

With the launch of Posh Dressing Room, the retailer is connecting buyers with a personal “Seller Stylist,” a move that fosters the experience of shopping in a physical boutique. The service makes online shopping easier and more customized for consumers, and enables its sellers to expand their online boutiques, according to Poshmark.

Every seller on Poshmark is called a seller stylist — an associate who not only sells their personal style, but also curates items for the community. Stylists spend hours answering hundreds of shopper questions to understand each customer's unique style, then they can curate up to seven million items daily to provide shoppers with customized styling recommendations. This process leads to a sale made every few second, Poshmark said.

According to the retailer, these customized styling recommendations are becoming the fastest driver of sales on the platform, with 75% of purchases coming from repeat buyers who regularly shop from the same stylist.

The Posh Dressing Room is streamlining this process, and making it easier for stylists to match buyers to the right inventory.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers request to connect with a seller stylist who shares a bundled, personalized look with shoppers based on their style preferences. Since stylists can connect with buyers directly to curate the latest available merchandise, shoppers will receive real-time updates on in-stock inventory.

The new service allows sellers to grow their businesses five times faster, Postmark said.

"Since inception, Poshmark has continued to launch new services – from payment protection to shipping to product verification to a new wholesale channel – that simplify selling, shopping and styling for our fast-growing community," said Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of Poshmark. "The Posh Dressing Room is our next major innovation that will make it even easier for our Seller Stylists to service their shoppers.”

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