Thursday, November 30, 2006

Borders Looking in New Directions

Don't blame me for not getting back to Second Life. Blame life itself. There are just so many interesting stories out there in the big city.

But I promise: tomorrow we'll get back to the last two posts on Second Life.

According to Bloomberg News, on Friday, the new CEO of Borders Group announced that the company is "reviewing options for its Internet relationship with"

Back in April of 2001, the New York Times reported:

The Borders Group, the nation's second-largest bookseller, is closing its struggling online store and will have serve its customers instead . . . Amazon will become the seller of record, providing the inventory, fulfillment of orders, Website content and customer service . . . Borders is a distant third in the online book market, with $27 million in sales last year. Amazon sold $1.7 billion of books, music and videos last year, and, the online affiliate of Barnes & Noble, the No. 1 bookstore chain, sold $320 million.

What a difference five years makes.

George Jones, the new Borders CEO, wants to distinguish Borders from its competitors. Bloomberg reports that Jones sees the Internet playing a large role in the chain's future.

"We need to differentiate ourselves so that a customer is willing to drive by our competitor's stores for certain products we carry," he said. "We want to focus on certain key categories where we will really stand out."

The 55-year-old Jones has only been with Borders since July 17th. The press release announcing his hiring had this to say about him:

Jones has more than three decades of retail experience including his most recent post as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saks Department Store Group. Prior to Saks, Jones was President, Worldwide Licensing and Retail, for Warner Bros., where in addition to his core responsibilities, he oversaw Warner Bros. Worldwide Publishing, Kids WB Music, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, WB Sports and Warner Bros. Studio Stores. His background also includes key merchandising and operations positions at Target Corporation, including Executive Vice President-Store Operations and Senior Vice President-Merchandising.

This is a savvy businessman with more than a little experience in marketing. Right now, according to Bloomberg, Borders has 13% of the book market, behind B&N at 15%, but ahead of Amazon at 10%. Jones inherited 1,200 stores and 35,000 employees.

Keep an eye on Borders.

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