August 25, 2008, 12:00 AM

ShopNBC fires CEO after sales plummet

The TV and online shopping network announced Friday a 26% decline in second quarter sales and the departure of its CEO, Rene Aiu, less than six months after she was hired. She was replaced by John Buck, executive chairman of the ShopNBC board.

TV and online shopping network ShopNBC announced Friday a 26% drop in its fiscal second quarter sales and the departure of CEO Rene Aiu, who took the job less than six months ago. Aiu was replaced by John Buck, executive chairman of the ShopNBC board, who had served as interim CEO before Aiu was hired.

"Revenues in the second quarter were very disappointing," Buck says. "The board fully recognizes these performance issues, and we are taking decisive action to address these trends."

ShopNBC also announced hiring Keith R. Stewart, an executive at competing TV and Internet shopping retailer QVC Inc., as president and chief operation officer. Stewart spent 15 years with QVC, part of Liberty Interactive Group, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. ShopNBC, which is owned by ValueVision Media Inc., is No. 65.

The executive changes were announced as ShopNBC disclosed its second quarter revenue had dropped 26% from $190.6 million a year ago to $142 million and that its net loss had widened to $15.7 million from $5.4 million. The company`s fiscal second quarter ended Aug 2. For the first two quarters of its fiscal year the retailer`s sales have declined 21% to $298 million from $379 million in the same period a year ago.

ShopNBC, which announced a cost-cutting program in January, says it reduced its expenses 11% in the second quarter by trimming headcount and other measures. With the weak economy hammering jewelry sales, the company announced earlier in the year it was cutting prices on its high-end jewelry, which reduced profit margins.

Aiu had held executive positions at Home Shopping Network, another merchant that sells through TV programs and the web, before joining ShopNBC. HSN is No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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