Barnes & Noble Thursday announced that COO Jaime Carey has been promoted to president of development & restaurant group, effective immediately, as it prepares an elevated restaurant concept for four of its stores
The four restaurant concepts will open in fiscal 2017 and be lead by an executive chef, bringing food, beer, and wine, and table-side service for customers to gather in the evening. The cafes will be twice the size of its in-store concessions now, first unveiled in the early 1990s, which feature Starbucks coffee and pastries.
Barnes & Noble Wednesday reported a Q4 loss of $30.6 million on revenue of $876.7 million. For the fiscal year, the company saw a loss of $24.4 million, or 49 cents per share, on revenue of $4.16 billion. The company expects same-store sales to stay flat or rise by up to 1% this fiscal year; analysts were expecting a 0.6% rise, according to Consensus Metrix, Reuters reports.
The National Restaurant Association calls retail-host restaurants one of the fastest-growing segments for restaurant food, expanding at an annual rate of close to 6%. Defined as restaurants located within health and personal care stores, general merchandise stores, variety stores, food stores and grocery stores, gasoline service stations and other miscellaneous retailers, retail-host restaurants topped $40.5 billion in sales in 2015, up from $29.5 billion in 2009.
There’s a good reason for that, and one that fits with Boire’s vision for Barnes & Noble—food service is an example of a clear brick-and-mortar advantage.
“I know that there are two parts of retail that cannot be duplicated on the internet: one is food and dining and the other is entertainment,” Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, told Retail Dive.
There are a host of considerations that comes with restaurant operations—health inspections, food spoilage, and siting issues among them—that many retailers haven’t wrestled with. But Boire Thursday said that the company’s experience with its cafes has paid off.
“It's a great harmonic to a core competency,” he told investors. “A question people have asked is, What about supply chain? It's like, well, we have 588 restaurants today. We know how to keep them clean, we know how to get product to them. It's really about the creativity around the new menu and a new experience. We're really excited about it.”
The move fits with Boire’s efforts to expand Barnes & Noble’s merchandise mix to include gifts and toys—efforts that have paid off—and heighten the customer experience. Executives Thursday spoke of fostering the sort of discovery that many book shoppers enjoy.
“When we thought about these stores, sure, we wanted a contemporary aesthetic,” Carey said Thursday. “We wanted lots of chairs, tables, places for people to sit, hang out—together, alone, however they would enjoy the space. But we also wanted to make sure that—because we think one of the really the great experiences inside a Barnes & Noble is the ability to come in and discover a book that you hadn't thought about. So we wanted to make sure these stores double down on that experience. I think when you walk in you're going to see a lot more tables in a sense of curated experiences. So that you can go, ‘oh, this is interesting.’ So I think that experience is going to be very exciting for our customers.”
The company’s shares, which closed 7% lower on Wednesday, rose about 6% in extended trading, Reuters reports.