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Four directors step down from Indigo board, Reisman also leaving in August

An Indigo bookstore is seen Wednesday, November 4, 2020 in Laval, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Nearly half the board of Indigo Books and Music Inc. is stepping down — including founder and executive chair Heather Reisman — in a stunning announcement that saw one director allege poor leadership and treatment.

Reisman, who built Indigo into Canada's biggest bookstore chain over a quarter-century, said she will retire this summer.

More immediate is the resignation of four other directors, including Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa. Appointed to the board in 2020, Oriuwa stepped down "because of her loss of confidence in board leadership and because of mistreatment," Indigo said in a release Wednesday.

The company provided no explanation for the departures of the three other directors — Frank Clegg, Howard Grosfield and Anne Marie O'Donovan — who collectively had served on the board for 40 years.

The four resignations had taken effect when the statement was released Wednesday morning.

The announcements mark another major hiccup for the company after a February cyberattack that compromised current and former employees' personal information — including medical and immigration data — and halted online sales at the retailer for almost a month. Meanwhile, consumers are showing signs of cutting back on indulgences such as games and household items that comprise a hefty chunk of Indigo’s inventory. 

Reisman said the time had come for her to step back from an active role at the retailer.

"Deciding when it is time to move on is one of the toughest decisions a founder must make, but I know this is the right moment for me," she said in the release.

"Building Indigo over the past 25 years has been the adventure of a lifetime. As I embark on this new chapter, I will be rooting for the company every step of the way."

Indigo wished the departing directors well and thanked them for their contributions.

In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Melissa Perri said while this is a time of change at the board level for the company, Indigo remains confident in its business, its finances and its long-term strategy. She said work is being done during this transition time to ensure a strong team of board directors is in place. 

Reisman will retire as executive chair and from the board effective Aug. 22, the company said.

She stepped down as chief executive of Indigo last year as part a transition that saw Peter Ruis, who had been the retailer's president, promoted to chief executive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IDG)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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