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Retail legend to step down


The man who turned a single struggling bookstore he bought in 1965 into a retail empire is retiring from active duty.

Leonard Riggio, founder and executive chairman of Barnes & Noble Inc., announced that he will retire as chairman in September, following the chain’s annual shareholder meeting.

“I’ve done everything I have wanted to do in business and now it is time for me to pursue the many other endeavors related to my philanthropic and social interests,” said Riggio.

The bookseller told the New York Times that he does not want to run any more businesses.

“I have a great idea for a sock store, but I’m not going to do it,” Riggio said in the report. “I’m done making money.”

Riggio, 75, transformed bookstore retail from its signature small store model and quiet, highbrow ambience into a big business with big-box destination locations that encouraged people to linger and hang out. He grew the chain’s portfolio during the 1980s and 1990s, opening superstores across the nation.

Riggio took Barnes & Noble public and became CEO in 1993, holding the position until 2002.

The chain has struggled in recent years under heavy competition from Amazon and other online retailers. It has closed some 80 stores and had three CEOs during the past six years.

Riggio, 75, intends to remain on the Barnes & Noble board. He is the company’s largest individual shareholder, with 17.5%.

“I intend to remain a shareholder of Barnes & Noble for years to come, Riggio said. “I have complete confidence in the management team and their ability to take this company to the next level of bookselling and I have every intention of offering my help and support.”

The board appointed Paul B. Guenther to serve as non-executive chairman upon Riggio stepping down. Guenther, former president of Paine Webber Group, Inc., has been a member of the board since 2015. Barnes & Noble CEO Ron Boire will report to the board.

Barnes & Noble operates 640 bookstores in 50 states, and an e-commerce site.

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