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Posted on Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

Musical chairs at Borders: When will it stop?

By Nathan Bomey

Leadership continuity is but a dream for Borders Group.

That was reinforced this afternoon when the Ann Arbor-based book store chain announced yet another round of changes in its executive leadership lineup.

Thumbnail image for Borders_headquarters.JPG

Leadership changes are a regular occurrence at Borders Group's Ann Arbor headquarters.

This is coming from a company that has had four CEOs in less than two years, not to mention a new chief financial officer and an untold amount of turnover in its management ranks.

Here's a sampling of today's personnel changes:

• Joanna Goldstein, the firm's vice president of marketing, is becoming vice president of non-book merchandising. Her appointment comes after Borders said in its latest conference call with investors that it plans to offer more "non-book products," such as Build-A-Bear products and children's toys and games.

• Borders recruited a former executive, Kathryn Popoff, to return to the company as vice president of merchandising. She had worked at Borders from 2002 to November 2009.

• Larry Norton, Borders' former senior vice president of merchandising, will become senior vice president of business development and publisher relations.

• Mike Ferrari, a former Barnes & Noble executive, will become merchandising director of trade books for Borders.

Personnel changes are common at a major corporate retailer that's fighting to stay alive.

But Borders is being whipsawed by changes, and there's no sign that new ideas are generating positive momentum.

The only constant at Borders right now is decline. The firm is down to about 600 workers at its corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor after two rounds of layoffs this year -- and concerns about its long-term viability as an independent retailer are looming.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Too little, too late. Bringing Ferrari on: excellent move-but ultimately he is a deck chair, Build a Bear is a deck chair, the underperforming Kobo is a deck chair, the expensive new signage-deck chair. It's a slow moving iceberg, but it will hit eventually.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:35 a.m.

Build a Bear? To quote a very dear friend of mine, "Borders used to be the Zingerman's of books. Now look at them."


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

It's my hope that if Borders closes down, that at the least, they keep an independently owned 'flagship' store open in Ann Arbor. I like Borders better than B&N.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:52 a.m.

This is they way Borders has been run for well over a decade. That is a huge factor in how they got into the trouble they are in today. Execs came in, milked the company for all they could get and left the place worse off than when they got it. Another would step in with a new plan to "right the ship", but they would do the same. Get even richer at the expense of the company an the thousands of staff. It's been a vicious cycle that still hasn't been broken. Borders is doomed. There is no question about that. Borders has failed with every "non-book merchandise" scheme they ever game up with. Build a Bear??? Are you kidding me? So, in the ever-decreasing physical book market, the plan to save the company involves people making their own stuffed teddy bears. Now THAT'S an untapped market. To make matters worse, 600 people cannot run that company. This is quickly becoming a death spiral.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 10:53 p.m.

When will it stop?  Before long, when the music stops.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 6:49 p.m.

dying gasps

Brian Bundesen

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 4:19 p.m.

I wish all the entering and exiting Execs well. It's a shame that these musical chairs are on the deck of the Titanic.