News

Bertrams sold to Smiths News

Smiths News has bought Bertrams|THE, bringing to an end the wholesaler's four-month search for a new suitor. The total transaction value of the takeover is £8.6m for the business, which had sales in 2008 of £122.5m.

The news will come as a huge relief to all sides of the book trade. Ian Hudson, president of the Publishers Association, said publishers were "delighted": debts will be repaid in full over the next four months, with the aim of returning stock availability to "pre-crisis norms". Tim Hely Hutchinson, group chief executive of Hachette UK, said: "My colleagues and I warmly welcome today’s announcement that Bertram has been acquired by Smiths News. I am personally delighted at the prospect of working again with my much-respected former colleagues from Smiths News."

Michael Neil, group m.d. of Bertram, said: "This is a great opportunity for Bertram. We are looking forward to being part of the Smiths News group with its strong and stable financial base. The Bertram business neatly complements Smiths News' areas of commercial interest."

In an announcement to the City, Smiths News said that about £7m of working capital would be injected into the wholesaler by the end of August "to increase stock availability and thereby customer service". Smiths News PLC was created when it split away from the W H Smith Group on 1st September 2006: like WHS it dates its origins back to 1792. It had annual sales in 2008 of £1.2bn.

Hudson said: "Publishers are delighted that Smiths News has acquired Bertrams and that they have a firm commitment to the future development of the company. Bertram's customers can once again trade with them in the confidence of knowing that the prospects for the company are bright and that Bertrams service levels will soon return to pre-crisis levels."

Mark Cashmore, c.e.o. of Smiths News, said: "We believe this represents an excellent strategic opportunity for Smiths News to broaden our business and to utilise further our specialist distribution skill set in the UK. We believe Smiths News is extremely well placed to move Bertram's business forward and capitalise on a number of exciting opportunities."

Bertrams|THE had been trading with the top five publishers on a pro-forma basis following Woolworths going into administration. Hudson said that publishers and distributors would be working closely with Bertrams|THE to return availability to "pre-crisis norms". He added: "Enormous credit must go to Michael Neil and his team for delivering Bertrams into new ownership."

For the year ended 3 February 2008, Bertram reported revenue of £122.5m, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £4.5m and profit before tax of £2.6m. The value of the gross assets being acquired by Smiths News is £23.9m.

Woolworths Group placed its wholesaler EUK and retail business into administration on 29th November. The business had failed to find a buyer for its retail wing. Bertrams|THE had a separate banking facility to Woolworths and therefore was not liable for the debt owed by its parent company and did not go into administration.

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A great deal for Bertrams and its staff, but perhaps publishers should be bit more careful before jumping for joy: Smiths News is no shrinking violet when it comes to negotiations. It could have been worse though: it could have been WHS as is being reported rather oddly elsewhere.

Woolworths were reputed to have paid

What goes around...comes around...
THE was formerly Hammicks wholesale...owned by Menzies...(who sold their retail units to WHS...)
THE was sold off...
WHS owned a wholesaler ..called Heathcote...who sold it to ...yes THE...
WHS and WHS News split
THE was brought by EUK..
who brought Bertrams
and finally ...
WHS NEWS buys BertramsTHE...
Mmm

Good news for the workers....
but do the maths...7m is not going to be enough to replenish stock on 122m t/o...

Yes, relief now for all sides. Longer term, Smiths News is serious player: can't help but think the balance has shifted towards Bertrams. Terms negotiations are not going to get any easier.

BBB - someone else trying to use my handle after Mr Blah duh blah elsewhere??? Anyway... Great news for Bertrams. Back from the brink. Clive, jobs have been saved, screw terms fights - that's not important just now. Ray, stow the smugness for a moment and let these guys breathe a sigh of relief. There will be details and caveats but let's just be glad for a moment before jumping on the Cynical Express?

I must admit I was surprised to get an email from Liz Thomson telling me that WHS had bought Bertrams, having received the bookseller one an hour earlier telling me it was Smiths News. Not her finest hour.

Good news ; relief for both the staff and to many in the independent booktrade.

Does anyone remember how much Kip Bertram sold out for ?

How much Kip sold out for is totally immaterial : I believe it was about

And let's not forget the efforts too of Bertram Library Services. For three months they have been winning (and losing) contracts, and I'm guessing the latter could be partly to do with the company's unsettled few months. However, just think where hundreds of councils would be if BLS had gone under, mid-way through three year contracts worth millions. All credit not just to Bertram Books staff, but BLS staff too - Messrs Carter, Bannerman & co. deserve a drink this weekend for getting through what must have been a very depressing winter, with a sale originally due after Christmas. Staff there are excellent and are all to be commended, from their five or six account managers internally to their sales reps and the team of buyers who have been struggling to purchase new advance titles and dish them out to the increasing number of libraries for whom supplier selection has become the 'norm'. For anyone who has visited BLS will know, their site is both impressive and unimpressive at the same time. Horrendously small uncomfortable offices then give way to a huge factory with around 100 or more staff servicing books with all our ridiculous needs from unnecessary spine labels to plastic jackets. It would be nice if some of the

Congratulations here to the quote above from 'The London Librarian' He or she is absolutely right.. this has been a torrid time for the poor souls at Morely- there have been rumours that did not bear the contemplation, and let us hope they come through the next few months in one piece. The public library service needs them so very much. phew. Tim

The answer to Retired Publisher is that

BSEL - read the article because there are... Mark Cashmore, c.e.o. of Smiths News, said: "We believe this represents an excellent strategic opportunity for Smiths News to broaden our business and to utilise further our specialist distribution skill set in the UK. We believe Smiths News is extremely well placed to move Bertram's business forward and capitalise on a number of exciting opportunities."

A lot of words here, but none addressing WHY Smiths News bought it.

Smiths News has many of the same suppliers, has a wide retail customer base to whom Bertrams could also supply, has excellent wholesale and distribution systems, is in the book return business, is a cash generating businesss that works on narrow margins, is looking for a way to add to its turnover, has good management....

Smiths News will have bought it as it is a good fit for them to diversify into. Their core business, of newspapers and magazines distribution, is going to shrink massively over the next ten years.

I would echo the above thoughts on both Smiths not letting it founder and buying 'pre-pack', and the Berts management who kept it all going when many of us had all but lost hope. Well done and thank you.

So the WHY could be the include the intention to put a discounted bestseller book rack in each CTN they service?

It could well be that Smiths News existing links with Supermarkets and with CTN's will provide a fantastic avenue for growth , for Berts .

Smiths News vs Dawson News. Smiths are winning that battle. Then Smiths buy Bertrams. Suddenly Dawson News looks outflanked. Almost identical models at the two head companies and books seem to be propping Dawson News up - a matter of watch and learn? Is it time to pity the booksellers at Dawsons Books?

Especially interesting as Dawson are a longstanding customer of Berts .

A great deal for Bertrams and its staff, but perhaps publishers should be bit more careful before jumping for joy: Smiths News is no shrinking violet when it comes to negotiations. It could have been worse though: it could have been WHS as is being reported rather oddly elsewhere.

Woolworths were reputed to have paid

Good news ; relief for both the staff and to many in the independent booktrade.

I must admit I was surprised to get an email from Liz Thomson telling me that WHS had bought Bertrams, having received the bookseller one an hour earlier telling me it was Smiths News. Not her finest hour.

BBB - someone else trying to use my handle after Mr Blah duh blah elsewhere??? Anyway... Great news for Bertrams. Back from the brink. Clive, jobs have been saved, screw terms fights - that's not important just now. Ray, stow the smugness for a moment and let these guys breathe a sigh of relief. There will be details and caveats but let's just be glad for a moment before jumping on the Cynical Express?

Yes, relief now for all sides. Longer term, Smiths News is serious player: can't help but think the balance has shifted towards Bertrams. Terms negotiations are not going to get any easier.

What goes around...comes around...
THE was formerly Hammicks wholesale...owned by Menzies...(who sold their retail units to WHS...)
THE was sold off...
WHS owned a wholesaler ..called Heathcote...who sold it to ...yes THE...
WHS and WHS News split
THE was brought by EUK..
who brought Bertrams
and finally ...
WHS NEWS buys BertramsTHE...
Mmm

Good news for the workers....
but do the maths...7m is not going to be enough to replenish stock on 122m t/o...

Does anyone remember how much Kip Bertram sold out for ?

How much Kip sold out for is totally immaterial : I believe it was about

And let's not forget the efforts too of Bertram Library Services. For three months they have been winning (and losing) contracts, and I'm guessing the latter could be partly to do with the company's unsettled few months. However, just think where hundreds of councils would be if BLS had gone under, mid-way through three year contracts worth millions. All credit not just to Bertram Books staff, but BLS staff too - Messrs Carter, Bannerman & co. deserve a drink this weekend for getting through what must have been a very depressing winter, with a sale originally due after Christmas. Staff there are excellent and are all to be commended, from their five or six account managers internally to their sales reps and the team of buyers who have been struggling to purchase new advance titles and dish them out to the increasing number of libraries for whom supplier selection has become the 'norm'. For anyone who has visited BLS will know, their site is both impressive and unimpressive at the same time. Horrendously small uncomfortable offices then give way to a huge factory with around 100 or more staff servicing books with all our ridiculous needs from unnecessary spine labels to plastic jackets. It would be nice if some of the

Congratulations here to the quote above from 'The London Librarian' He or she is absolutely right.. this has been a torrid time for the poor souls at Morely- there have been rumours that did not bear the contemplation, and let us hope they come through the next few months in one piece. The public library service needs them so very much. phew. Tim

The answer to Retired Publisher is that

A lot of words here, but none addressing WHY Smiths News bought it.

BSEL - read the article because there are... Mark Cashmore, c.e.o. of Smiths News, said: "We believe this represents an excellent strategic opportunity for Smiths News to broaden our business and to utilise further our specialist distribution skill set in the UK. We believe Smiths News is extremely well placed to move Bertram's business forward and capitalise on a number of exciting opportunities."

Smiths News has many of the same suppliers, has a wide retail customer base to whom Bertrams could also supply, has excellent wholesale and distribution systems, is in the book return business, is a cash generating businesss that works on narrow margins, is looking for a way to add to its turnover, has good management....

Smiths News will have bought it as it is a good fit for them to diversify into. Their core business, of newspapers and magazines distribution, is going to shrink massively over the next ten years.

I would echo the above thoughts on both Smiths not letting it founder and buying 'pre-pack', and the Berts management who kept it all going when many of us had all but lost hope. Well done and thank you.

So the WHY could be the include the intention to put a discounted bestseller book rack in each CTN they service?

It could well be that Smiths News existing links with Supermarkets and with CTN's will provide a fantastic avenue for growth , for Berts .

Smiths News vs Dawson News. Smiths are winning that battle. Then Smiths buy Bertrams. Suddenly Dawson News looks outflanked. Almost identical models at the two head companies and books seem to be propping Dawson News up - a matter of watch and learn? Is it time to pity the booksellers at Dawsons Books?

Especially interesting as Dawson are a longstanding customer of Berts .

Yes, it's Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison who are the big prize-- and Smith News are already the news wholesaler for these big groups. Always interesting to see if Tesco would actually take on WH Smith-- they probably could with this supply line.

Interesting comments from everyone, but there seems to be some disturbing stirring going on especially around figures of debt and what was paid for the business years ago. A few years ago, my partner and I bought a shop unit, which has lost value considerably now - it happens, its life.

There are a couple of other articles about the Berts takeover and they also have negative comments, surely this is a time to look on the brighter side of this deal? 600 jobs saved and countless independent bookshops saved from collapse too along with hundreds of library budgets and other chain and internet bookstores.

How quickly will this 7m get stock into Berts? And from my point of view, how quickly before libraries start seeing it, as I'm sure scores of libraries, ourselves included, have a considerable number of titles outstanding with BLS. I hope BLS have sufficient staff to cope with the onslaught of extra stock arriving. I also hope that some of this goes into BLS showroom too, which from my recent visit a few weeks ago was diminishing rapidly.

I wonder how much Berts suffers now through peoples perceptions of them being part of woollies and being taken over so much in the last few years, and whether a name change would be good for their business. Smiths is a long standing recognised name, could we see a Smiths News Books, Smiths News LS appearing soon? Gardners would have to really up their anti if they are to then compete and succeed against not just a bookseller + book distributor, but a high-profile news & glossy company too. Though maybe this had been predicted by Holt's recent foray into e-books and electronic distrubution? Is this a way forward for either company?

Read Smiths own press release. They bought the assets from the Bertrams companies, which were in Administration i.e it was a pre-pack.

Too right.
Naughty or what....crafty bit of leg work went letting it go into admin and buying it as a flat pack...
Now I wonder if all the rules were observed re contracts with their customers....
ah well what is done is done..
No doubt they make the same hash of Bertrams as they did of Heathcote.

As far as I was aware, Bertrams and BLS were not in administration, and the account manager that I deal with at BLS said the same, so the staff weren't told either if that's the case. However, Bertrams and BLS are good companies, and hopefully Smiths will take them both a long way, we should be applauding the takeover not demeaning it.

Bertram Group were not in adminsistration. This company has same strong management , same suppliers , and a bigger customer base ,. A formula for future success .

Well on 25/10/2011 bertrams annouced to press a 1.9m fraud, same day they have a staff meeting an tell staff they can no longer afford to buy uniforms and yesterday 03/11/11 they cant afford to renew radio license.... doesn't look for a good xmas does it?