Barnes & Noble to Run Coop; Textbook Expansion PlannedBy Christopher Falling
Associate News Editor
Barnes &Noble Bookstores will manage store operations for the Harvard Cooperative Society as part of a major restructuring announced last Friday.
The Coop will continue to exist as a cooperative, said Institute Senior Vice President and Chairman of the Coop William R. Dickson '56. No patronage rebate is likely this year, Dickson said.
The Coop will also continue to independently operate its other businesses, including its real estate interests in Harvard Square and mail orders of its merchandise, he said.
"There is no longer any room for a medium sized department store," in the Boston community, Dickson said.
"We felt that our strength is in business which appeals to the academic community, such as books, supplies, insignia merchandise, and posters," said Coop President Jeremiah P. Murphy, Jr.
Book expansion planned
The objective for the Kendall Square Coop would be to become "the finest technical bookstore in the nation," Murphy said in Saturday's Boston Globe.
The plan is to greatly expand the selection of books and supplies and eliminate other businesses from the Kendall Square store, Murphy said.
The Coop will decide in conjunction with Barnes & Noble over the next few months the changes that should be implemented after the back-to-school period in January, Murphy said.
The Coop must anticipate what customers want, Dickson said. Barnes & Noble's management should help the Coop achieve this goal, he said.
The Coop's annual revenues are in excess of $50 million, of which book sales are about 30 percent.
Sales of books have been erratic, with no steady increase or decline over the past five years, Murphy said. Total sales suffered a small decline this past year after having stabilized from a four year decline last year, he added.
The Coop is planning on investing several million dollars for capital improvements, Murphy said. The bulk of the spending will occur in the next six months in the book building on Palmer Street in Harvard Square.
Yearly rebate unlikely
The Coop's patronage rebate for the fiscal year ending June 30, will be decided at the next meeting of the board of directors on Sept. 21, Dickson said.
"It is unlikely that there will be a rebate this year," Dickson said. "I hope to see a rebate for next year, but I cannot predict if there will be one."
The Coop did not offer a patronage rebate last year for the first time in its 113-year history. The rebate was down to one percent the previous year.