Jun 21, 2018 • 10:00 am ET



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Demos Parneros

year. We developed a pipeline of real estate opportunities to get us to a net positive store count in fiscal 2019. We enhanced our omnichannel capabilities through the launch of our ship from store program; and last, we implemented a $40 million cost-reduction program.

Now turning to fiscal 2019, we expect our comp-sales trends to improve over the prior year. To improve our sales trends, we're focused on enhancing the customer experience, better curation, increasing the value for our members and also investing in marketing to drive traffic. We're also innovating for the future through newly designed stores, focusing on existing high-potential businesses and developing a pipeline of new businesses. Let's take a moment to review some of these initiatives in more detail.

To enhance the customer experience and to reassert our leadership as a bookseller or creating new programs such as the Barnes & Noble Book Club, which debut in May. I'm really excited about this program which builds on Barnes & Nobles' unique heritage to bring together and engage readers in a national conversation about books. This is core to what we do at Barnes & Noble, connecting readers and communities through engaging content and programs. We're featuring a new title every quarter and partnering with authors and publishers to create exclusive content.

Our inaugural selection was Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion and we had thousands of customers participate in our book club discussion. Our Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Mantel, joined the Company earlier this year and has been focused on opportunities to improve the customer experience and to drive the business. Our goal is to be relevant during key holidays and to be a destination for unique and thoughtful gifts. A great example of this is our Exclusive and Signed Editions program. This program resonates very well with our customers during the Black Friday holiday period, and we plan to grow sales by extending this program to other holidays, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, when customers are looking for great one-of-a-kind gift.

Additionally, we see opportunities to expand our toys and games business and are revamping our gift business. Over the course of the past year, we established a business development team that is responsible for creating a pipeline of fresh new concepts to engage our customers. This team is responsible for the introduction of some new back-to-school products that we'll be selling in our stores in July. This product including pens, notebooks, backpacks and water bottles is very complementary to our summer reading program.

As I mentioned earlier, we've made significant strides in increasing our membership count by testing number of value offers tied to the program. Based on our learnings, we'll enhance the value of the membership program and increase engagement to yield further growth through new sign-ups and reduced attrition. Another way we plan to rebuild sales is through enhancements to our real estate portfolio.

We're excited to open several new prototype stores this year which will feature a completely new design. We