Barnes & Noble will close one-third of its locations over next decade

The chain recently experienced disappointing numbers over the holiday season.

Elise Amendola/AP
Barnes & Noble plans to close one-third of its retail locations. It currently has 689 regular B&N stores and 674 college locations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Barnes & Noble, which reported that it had struggled with sales over the holiday season, will shutter one-third of its current locations over the course of the next ten years.

The chain will close about 20 a year, which will be bring the store’s locations to between 450 and 500 total. Barnes & Noble currently has 689 retail locations as well as 674 stores at colleges, which are counted as a different chain.

"It's a good business model," Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "You have to adjust your overhead, and get smart with smart systems. Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves.” Klipper pointed out that currently, only 3 percent of the Barnes & Noble locations are losing money.

Barnes & Noble spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating pointed out that the chain opened two new prototype stores during 2012.

"Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever... We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the last 10 years," Keating said. "Of that number some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties."

Barnes & Noble has been battling rivals like Amazon for the past several years and continued to have problems despite concentrating on innovations like the Nook, the chain’s official e-reader and tablet. The stores also took steps like refusing to sell Amazon-published books.

During the last ten years, Barnes & Noble closed around 10 stores a year, according to the Wall Street Journal, but before 2009, it regularly opened at least 30 locations per year.

Barnes & Noble’s downsizing of locations also comes, of course, after its former biggest competition, Borders, filed for bankruptcy and closed all its locations.

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