Borders, the embattled bookstore chain, announced their numbers on Tuesday, and they showed, not surprisingly, a huge loss.

A series of one-time charges and lower sales lead to a loss from continuing operations of $184.7 million at Borders Group for the year ended January 31 compared to a loss of $157.4 million in the previous year. Total revenue declined 8.9%, to $3.27 billion. Sales fell 9.4% at the company’s superstores in the year, to $2.65 billion, and declined 14.7% at the Walden Specialty Group, to $480.0 million. Comp sales were down 10.8% at the superstores for the full year, with book comps off 8.2% and non-book sales down 16.1%. Walden comps were off 5.1%.


Despite the bad news, CEO Ron Marshall remained positive in an interview with PW’s Jim Milliot.

His vision for the chain is to return it to its roots–a chain “that caters to book lovers, where a customer will walk out smarter than when she walked in.”

To get there, one of Borders top priorities will be to improve its execution at all levels. The company is establishing benchmarks and metrics to hold all employees accountable for their performance, Marshall said. CFO Mark Bierley noted that Borders has dramatically improved its in-stock performance over the last three months, helped in large measure by reducing the order cycle for backlist from 12 to four weeks.


The Wall Street Journal has more:

As for revenue, Mr. Marshall said that he expects 2009 to continue to be challenging but that he thinks the economy could strengthen next year. “We were very conservative in our sales forecasts,” he said. “We want to be sure that in a difficult environment we get to the other side.” He noted that the retailer will trim another $70 million in expenses in the current fiscal year.


Given all the bad news coming out of Borders of late, it’s hard to guess how much of this is Titanic deck chair rearranging; however, a world without a bankrupt Borders remains better than the alternative.

1 COMMENT

  1. “His vision for the chain is to return it to its roots–a chain “that caters to book lovers, where a customer will walk out smarter than when she walked in.”

    they already do – when they go home and order it from Amazon!

  2. Sad to say, Charles is right. Once you get Amazon Prime, you rarely go back. Great discounts, great customer service.

    I once bought a set of Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers- it was actually a megaset of two smaller sets that were also available, but the megaset was on a great sale. About two weeks after it came, I opened it up- one of the two smaller sets had nothing but empty jewel cases. Any other retailer would have laughed at me or accused me of running a scam (Best Buy, I’m looking at you.) Amazon? They gave me the option of returning the whole set, or sending me the smaller set that had the disks I needed.

    THAT’S customer service.

    Hell, at Borders, it’s roulette as to whether or not they honor my corporate discount card. Why bother?

  3. Indeed, I went into a store and they said they could get a book for me in week, I went to the store coffee shop, ordered it on amazon off my phone and it was delivered by 10am the next morning…

    If you can’t compete with that, you can’t compete.

  4. “”His vision for the chain is to return it to its roots–a chain “that caters to book lovers, where a customer will walk out smarter than when she walked in.”””

    This would be good. For every Borders I know, is just a mass conglomerate of music, videos, books, coffee shop, and just about everything else under the sun. Kinda like a more book friendly Virgin Megastore.

    Maybe just returning to being a book store should’ve been the focus the whole time.