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Indigo CEO Peter Ruis resigns

The up-and-down year at Canadian book retailer Indigo took a new twist on Thursday as newly minted CEO Peter Ruis abruptly resigned.

Latest twist in tumultuous year for book retailer

Pedestrians walk past an Indigo store in Toronto’s downtown Yorkville neighbourhood on March 1, 2023

The up-and-down year at Canadian book retailer Indigo took a new twist on Thursday as CEO Peter Ruis abruptly resigned.

The company made the announcement in a media release Thursday morning, saying that Ruis has resigned from his position, effective immediately.

Indigo "thanks him for his contributions to the company and wishes him well as he moves on to new challenges in his career," the company said in the release. "Peter has agreed to serve Indigo as a consultant for the next two months to support a smooth transition in leadership."

After serving as company president for several years, Ruis was named CEO in August of last year as part of a transition plan that would see longtime CEO and founder Heather Reisman move up to a board-level position as chair of the company.

At the same time, the company's chief customer and digital officer, Andrea Limbardi, was named company president alongside Ruis.

But those plans seemingly started falling apart this summer. In June, Limbardi abruptly left the company to head up fashion retailer Reitmans instead.

Half of the members of the company's board of directors resigned in June. One of the board members who resigned, Chika Stacy Oriuwa, said she was doing so "because of her loss of confidence in board leadership and because of mistreatment."

Reisman herself also announced at that time that she was planning to step down from any and all roles at the company she founded. That was supposed to happen this month.

It's not immediately clear what the departure of the company's CEO and president in a matter of months will do to those succession plans. But in the short term at least the company says chief financial officer Craig Loudon and Damien Liddle, the company's general counsel, "will work closely with the board to provide day-to-day direction."

Richard Powers, an associate professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said the flurry of changes along with a stock price that has fallen by 90 per cent over the last five years signal Indigo is "in crisis" and "did not have a viable succession plan" in the event Ruis left.

"What's going to happen moving forward?" he questioned. "Who is going to steady the ship?"

When Ruis joined the company as president in February 2021, he was based in England, but Indigo said he and his family would make the move to Toronto.

"This guy's a star, but to last less than a year and without any further comment from the board, you have to start to wonder what happened?" Powers said.

He called Indigo's statement on the departure of Ruis is "bland" and said it invites speculation.

"If he was moving on to another position somewhere else, they would have put it in there," Powers said.

Earlier this year, Indigo was hit by a devastating cyberattack that knocked its online operations and many in-store sales offline for an extended period.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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