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Heather Reisman Returns to Indigo

Just a week after Indigo Books & Music Inc. announced the resignation of its CEO Peter Ruis, the book, toy, and lifestyle retailer confirmed a number of leadership appointments. Most notably is the return of Heather Reisman as CEO. The move, says Indigo, is part of its effortd to “drive to strengthen its brand focus and propel the company toward growth and profitability.”

Indigo reported its financial results for the 13-week period ended July 1, 2023 last month, noting that revenue was down $25.4 million or 12% from the same period the year prior. Sales, said the company, were impacted by the ransomware attack that occurred in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023. “Inventory replenishment capabilities were challenged as a result of the attack,” writes the company, “which impacted the assortment available in both the retail and online sales channels for the quarter. Furthermore, the ransomware attack impacted Indigo’s search engine optimization, which led to a weaker online presence and a decrease in online traffic.”

Indigo also said at the time that sales were impacted “by the downward pressures of a challenging macro-economic environment, which led to softened demand both in stores and online. Customers demonstrated increased price sensitivity, noted through positive responses to promotions and a lift of sales during promotional periods.”

The print business declined, despite the release of several prominent new book titles. Conversely, there was an increase in sales in the bargain print category. General merchandise sales, meanwhile, was impacted by softer customer demand as well.

As the leadership shakes up, Reisman, Indigo’s founder, returns to lead the company, and has also been appointed to its Board of Directors. Supporting Reisman, Craig Loudon, Indigo’s CFO, has been appointed to the position of COO. In his new role, Loudon will continue to act as the CFO and lead the finance team and function as well.

“We are incredibly grateful that Heather has agreed to return to the helm of Indigo and as a member of the Board, and that Craig has agreed to take on the key role of COO,” comments Markus Dohle, Chair of the Board’s Human Resources, Compensation, and Governance Committee. “More than ever, Heather’s unique experience is needed as we work to bring Indigo back to profitable growth. We know Heather’s deep understanding of the Indigo brand as the country’s leading voice on books and reading, and her commitment to the business, combined with a very special and dedicated organization, will put the company on the right trajectory.”

“There is a clear path for Indigo to regain its momentum,” adds Reisman. “I love this company and its mission. Even more, I care deeply about our people, who have given so much to build this incredible company over more than two and a half decades. I know that together we will return Indigo to growth and profitability. I’m thrilled for both Indigo and for Craig Loudon about his promotion to COO. Craig has not only the institutional knowledge and experience to support me and our entire team in his new role, he has also been a trusted partner for our employees, our suppliers and our shareholders for a long time.”

Indigo’s Board has also announced the appointment of Dohle as Chair of the Board of Directors and the addition of Eileen Naughton to the Board.

Dohle is a leader in the global publishing industry, recently capping off a 15-year term as CEO of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher. He joined the Indigo Board in June 2023.

“I’m honoured to serve Indigo, its leadership team and its thousands of employees in this important next phase,” says Dohle. “With these changes, the collective support of the Indigo Board, and the support of the company’s majority shareholder, we are positioning the company to re-emerge as a strong force in Canadian culture and business.”

“Markus brings unique knowledge of our industry and real passion for our business,” continues Reisman. “We are very fortunate to have him as our Chair and I know I will personally benefit from his guidance and engagement, as will our entire organization.”

Meanwhile, Naughton was most recently Chief People Officer at Google Inc. In addition to her deep expertise in people management, technology, and operations, she brings a wealth of media and publishing experience. She spent 15 years at Google/Alphabet and previously held several executive positions at Time Warner, including president of TIME Magazine.

“Indigo is delighted to have Eileen join our Board and contribute to our joint efforts to evolve Indigo’s culture, talent and people strategies,” comments Dohle.

Indigo is a publicly traded Canadian company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (IDG). The retailer operates stores in all 10 provinces and one territory in Canada, and also has retail operations in the U.S. through a wholly owned subsidiary, operating one retail store in Short Hills, New Jersey. The digital www.indigo.ca website and the mobile applications are extensions of the physical stores and offer customers an expanded assortment of book titles, along with a curated assortment of general merchandise.