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17 July 2011 @ 10:48 am
Twelve Years of Underperforming Senior Management At Borders Group  
Josefowicz Takes The Helm At Borders

November 1999

Borders Group, Inc. announced November 15, the appointment of Greg Josefowicz as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Josefowicz, age 47, succeeds Robert DiRomualdo, who has been serving as the Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. DiRomualdo will remain as Chairman.

Mr. DiRomualdo said, "The Board of Directors and I are extremely pleased to have Greg Josefowicz join Borders. Greg is a seasoned retailer who ran one of America's premier retail organizations and he will help us capitalize on the opportunities ahead. Greg's strengths in marketing, merchandising, logistics, operations and, above all, human resources will make Borders Group an even stronger business in the future. In addition, his experience in database management and e-commerce (as Peapod's Chicago affiliate) will serve to strengthen Borders.com. I'm delighted that our businesses are currently performing very well across the board and with Greg's leadership we are confident that Borders can fulfill its mission as the world's best-loved provider of books, music and other entertainment, educational and informational products and services."

Mr. Josefowicz said, "I am truly excited to be joining an organization and management team with great heritage of retail success, innovation and spirit. I look forward to continuing to build the strong brand images of Borders and Waldenbooks across multiple retail channels while meeting the needs of our customers."

Mr. Josefowicz most recently served as President of Jewel-Osco, a division of Albertson's, Inc. With 271 locations, Jewel-Osco is a Midwest retailer operating both combination food and drug stores and freestanding drug stores. Albertson's is one of the largest food-drug chains in the United States and recently completed its acquisition of American Stores, original parent company of Jewel-Osco. Mr. Josefowicz served as President of Jewel-Osco since 1997 and previously served in myriad roles in merchandising, marketing and operations during his career there, which began as a high school student in 1968. Mr. Josefowicz received the 1999 Illinois Retail Merchants Association Retailer of the Year award in September for his commitment to the retail industry and dedication to the community. Mr. Josefowicz holds a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where he continues to serve as a member of the Advisory Board.

July 2006

Jones To Be Named Borders CEO

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Borders Group, the nation's second-largest bookseller, will soon name ex-Saks executive George Jones as CEO, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The book retailer has been expected to name a new CEO since January, when current executive Greg Josefowicz announced plans to retire within two years.

The Journal reports that Jones earned a reputation for promoting innovation at Saks, where the luxury retailer created "nail bars," offering 15-minute manicures and in-store golf shops replete with putting greens and comfortable leather chairs.

Before Jones' four-year stint at Saks, he worked as president of worldwide licensing and studio stores for Warner Bros. for seven years.

Warner Bros. is owned by Time Warner, which also owns CNNMoney.com.

Jones will take the helm at a difficult time for the booksellers industry, which is in need of a hit this summer, according to the newspaper.

Borders' sales have been disappointing, with an increase of only 3.9 percent last year. Borders generates an estimated 12% of its revenues from music sales.

More On Mr. Jones (click here)

Ron Marshall Appointed Chairman - January 2009

Ron Marshall, the former chief executive officer of grocery distributor Nash Finch and a former chief financial officer at Pathmark Stores, on Monday was named CEO of troubled book retailer Borders Group here. Marshall left Nash Finch in 2006 and founded Wildridge Capital, a private investment firm.

Borders, which announced weak holiday sales on Monday, has been struggling for months and recently took itself off the auction block. Borders stock, which has traded below $1 per share for more than a month, is in danger of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange, the company said.

Marshall is replacing George Jones as CEO at Borders, and was one of several management changes announced Monday.

Marshall Out At Borders -  January 2010

CEO Ron Marshall is leaving Borders Group only a year after taking on the task of revitalizing the bookselling chain and establishing it as a full-fledged e-commerce player.

Borders announced this morning that Marshall, who took over as CEO last January, is leaving the company, effectively immediately, to become CEO of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc. supermarket chain.

To replace Marshall on a temporary basis, Borders has named chief merchandising officer and executive vice president Michael Edwards as interim CEO. Edwards will report directly to Borders chairman Mick McGuire. Edwards joined Borders in September after having been president and CEO of Ellington Leather, a wholesaler of leather handbags and accessories.

Marshall, who joined Borders after serving as a principal at private equity firm Wildridge Capital Management, was hired to help the company improve its financial position and establish the multichannel books retailer’s fledgling e-commerce program.

Edwards Takes Command  -  January 2010

Mike Edwards, former head of two Portland companies, was appointed as interim chief executive of Borders Group Inc., today following the departure of CEO Ron Marshall.   Edwards, 49, who was named Borders' chief merchandising officer in September, had served as the chief executive of Portland-based Ellington Leather and, before that, as CEO of Lucy Activewear. Lucy was founded in Portland and was bought by apparel conglomerate VF Corp. under Edwards' leadership.

Edwards takes on a challenging role at Borders.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based retailer hasn't posted a profit in nearly four years and has lost ground to competitor Barnes & Noble, which gained double-digit percentages on the news of the leadership shake-up and speculation over its involvement with Apple Tablet.

Borders, which is going on its fourth CEO in five years, fell 17 cents to 92 cents on the New York Stock Exchange. New York-based Barnes & Noble rose $2.32 to $19.70.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Marshall, who had been in the job for a year, will take over Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., operator of the A&P supermarket chain.  

Marshall departed A&P six months later.


(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
And that about sums up our demise.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
Things did seem to get a lot worse starting 1999.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
With each new CEO after Bob DiRomualdo Borders downgraded.

Each CEO after DiRomualdo knew almost nothing about books or media. Which would not have been a bad thing if they were strong leaders and stocked their "teams" with people who knew the book business and could see what was going on in music. Sadly this did not happen. We saw the cronyism system take over which gave us such beacons of intellect like Rob Gruen who was Jones' chief merchandising VP. This man did not have a clue.

This stuck out to me in DiRomualdo's comments about Josefowicz "his experience in database management and e-commerce (as Peapod's Chicago affiliate) will serve to strengthen Borders.com". I may be wrong here but wasn't it under Josefowicz that Borders went from an in house on-line merchant to having Amazon manage the on-line part of the business?
oldbookseller on July 17th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
(posted twice...once with link and once without to determine screening settings)

I pulled a paragraph from a puff piece about Josefowicz that talks about Amazon...

"While café-mingling, listening to music and shelf-browsing are the typical images associated with Borders, the company has also begun to expand in other ways under Josefowicz's command. Sales on the Internet, for example, brought Borders $27 million in revenues last year (2000); however, the Internet portion of Borders' overall operation also resulted in a loss of $18 million for the same period. A recent alliance with Amazon.com should decrease costs that partly created the loss, Josefowicz says."

While it doesn't specifically say he initiated the alliance...he evidently approved of it from a "cost" perspective.

(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
Josefowicz is where the rot began.

1) Let's invest millions of $ in building new superstores and fill them with a bunch of already out of date inventory and POS systems -instead of investing that money in upgrading the existing infrastructure. Plus people don't want to buy books on the internet, so why not build bunches of new locations and sign idiotic leases.

2) Now let's waste millions of dollars on redoing the cafe's (and sign a horrible contract with SBC) - at the same time when you can drive down any major road in the United States and buy a latte every 100 ft.

3) People want every Borders to look the same - so lets make everything all corporate and lose one of the big things that set us apart from B&N - the feeling of independent stores within a chain.

And last but not least the infamous talking fish - the start of tons of cheap crap filling up our stores.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
Edwards did not have a chance ! It was game over .
wiltonsteve on July 19th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Mike Edwards' leadership
I have to say that his previous 3 CEO's were just terrible. They not only didn't have a clue about the book business, but I can't even believe they knew anything about retail in general.

Mike Edwards is the only CEO during my 1-year career at Borders to "get it". He is the only one who ever talked about "turn" and how important that is to any retail company (if you don't know what "turn" means, then your GMs have failed you). He was dealt a shitty hand, and did the best thing in the world to get us out from a mountain of debt... Chapter 11. Sadly, not even this could have us, and who can blame the Publishers for wanting their money now, and not a future promise to pay. Josefewicz, Jones and Marshall made all the wrong moves, and unfortunately, Mr. Edwards is the guy who has to go down with the ship.

[P.S.: I am not a corporate employee, nor have ever met Mike Edwards, but having shared his struggle with this untenable situation, I felt it necessary that at least one person have the courage to say "thanks for trying."]
wiltonsteve on July 19th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
Re: Mike Edwards' leadership
I meant 10-year career. Boy, that little digit makes a huge difference.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
The feeling of an independent store within a chain...great comment and right on the money. We had one terrific, diversified group of employees back in the early 90's, and people enjoyed coming to Borders. It was a fun place to shop and offered great one on one customer service with a joke or two thrown in. Oh well...at least I enjoyed a few years.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
This is a great thread! It is marvelous that people are making the effort to learn from the past.
There are a few points that should be made.
1. When Borders began to expand into places like Texas, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania, a company was in effect being created the likes of which had never before existed. You couldn't just find a similar business and pick up its executives or its middle management, because there was not one. The businesses Barnes and Noble had acquired in order to drive its expansion in the early 1990s were only limited to a couple regional, if large, stores.
Borders pretty much recognized this and its response was to promote really aggressively from within. Even Ron Marshall promoted Kubek once again as soon as he was appointed CEO.
2. R. diRomauldo may have been interested in Greg not just for his background as a retailer, but also for his qualities as a humanitarian. We work only a few kilometers from the city Greg adopted during his years with Jewel/Osco, and in the Jewel nearest his residence there are persons who have worked there since the 1970s. Greg may like Pfeffer have had considerable expertise in certain things, but he clearly also had strong views about the importance of people in running a company, especially rank-and-file. Bear in mind that in early 2001, our pay was increased across the board.
3. I've been doing this for a long time, and unfortunately, booksellers do have a history going back to the 1980s of attributing their difficulties to factors that are extrinsic to what they do. I think that is because our economic expectations are particularly beginning in the Reagan years out of proportion to what we purportedly can contribute. If you ran a bookshop in the 1970s or earlier in America, you weren't in that different a position to Ice Cube's in the Barbershop movies. It's as simple as all that.
(Anonymous) on July 17th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Wow. Are you just trying to show off your intellect here? If so bravo. You really added near zero to the sum of the conversation. Kubek was promoted because she had the experience and she was the last person standing after Marshal purge #1. Marshal had no policy of promoting from within. Greg J talked a good game but moved experience out in favor of folks like Mike Spinozzi (among others), a Jewel Osco pal and subordinate. This team brought you Catman and RETEK. Two huge cash expenditures and ultimate failures. Neither of these two CEOs took to a stance to "promote really aggressively from within". We also bring up Pfeffer. If you are such a strong student of history then you may remember that Borders paid him millions to go away after less then 12 months on the job because he could not handle the job or the pressure. He was brought in from the outside by Greg J. With the arrival of Greg key promotions from within virtually stopped along with the cultivation of in house talent. Sure Greg was a humanitarian to "his" people. Yes people learn from the past and should do so. That is when it is presented factually and properly. Thanks for the rambling trip down fractured memory lane.
(Anonymous) on July 19th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
nice.....i love it when revisionist/selective history is corrected.
(Anonymous) on July 19th, 2011 07:32 am (UTC)
These assholes are the reason Borders is dying.