Indigo CEO Peter Ruis Steps Down Amidst Persistent Leadership Shake-Ups


Indigo Books & Music Inc. has confirmed that its Chief Executive Officer, Peter Ruis, is stepping down just a year after assuming the top role. The company’s board expressed gratitude for Ruis’ contributions, wishing him well for future undertakings in his professional career.

Leaving this post without a stated reason is the recent unexpected disruption within Indigo, a company that has seen its fair share of leadership transformations over the past year. No explanation was provided by the organization for Ruis’s abrupt departure.

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Andrea Limbardi, who was a 21-year veteran with Indigo and recently held the position as president, announced her departure from the company in a LinkedIn post last Wednesday. She confided her intent to assume leadership at clothing corporation, Reitmans Canada Ltd.

However, the most significant departure occurred when company founder Heather Reisman stepped down. A renowned entrepreneur, Reisman played a crucial role in molding Indigo into a cornerstone in the Canadian retail sector, boasting a network of 171 stores. Until Ruis took over the reins last year, she held the position of CEO and stayed on the board until her resignation on August 22.

Prior to her leaving, a third of Indigo’s board members chose to exit, with Chika Stacy Oriuwa attributing her decision to step down to a perceived lack of faith in the board leadership and alleged mistreatment.

Richard Powers, Associate Professor at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, indicated that the relentless leadership changes coupled with a plummeting stock price clear pointers that Indigo is struggling. He also added that the company revealingly lacked a sound succession plan in the event of Ruis’s departure. He pondered on the future, questioning who will bring stability to this wavering ship.

Ruis, who had served as the Indigo President before being promoted, was under constant pressure to stabilize the company’s leadership. Although, he expressed confidence that his team supported his ideas for the company’s future direction. His vision entailed blending books and home goods across stores, a continuation of the company’s longstanding objective.

Ruis was realistic about the hitches along the way, acknowledging inflation’s role in decreasing purchasing power and a cyberattack in February, which took down the company’s website and obstructed sales. He stressed the uphill task in regaining customers following the cyber disruption, viewing the gradual return of customers as a positive sign, albeit acknowledging it as a continued hurdle.

Despite these challenges, Ruis was deemed the perfect fit, with Heather Reisman praising his rich knowledge and expertise gained from tenures at prominent retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Ted Baker and Levi Strauss & Co. At Anthropologie URBN Group and John Lewis, he was instrumental in their successful international expansion and significant transition to a thriving fashion destination respectively.

Ruis’s unexpected departure has raised questions, with Powers terming the company’s statement as ‘bland’ and open to speculation. Ruis, who agreed to work as a consultant to Indigo for the next two months was embarking on smooth transition, has left the board scrambling to identify a suitable leader to steer the company forward.

In the meantime, Indigo’s Chief Financial Officer Craig Loudon and General Counsel, Damien Liddle, will collaborate closely with the board to offer day-to-day guidance. Powers believes the temporary leadership can maintain the company in the short term, but emphasizes the need for permanent solutions to prevent staff from seeking opportunities elsewhere.