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Waterstone's "bearing fruit", says Daunt
04.11.11 | Neill Denny
A confident James Daunt toasted the future at a major party held last night in central London, an occasion that also saw new Waterstone's chairman of the board Miranda Curtis introduced to the book trade.
"We have a big project ahead of us," said Daunt, who arrived as Waterstone's managing director in the summer. He said publishers had been "remarkably supportive", and had reacted "wholly positively" to his plans to revitalise the business. "It's a bumpy process but it is clearly bearing fruit." He described Waterstone's over the last five years as having "bookshops that were not sufficiently compelling". He also paid tribute to Alexander Mamut, the wealthy Russian investor who bought Waterstone's out of a troubled HMV earlier this year, saying he had shown "considerable fortitude" in making the investment.
The event took place across the fifth floor of Waterstone's Piccadilly flagship. Around 250 people were in the audience, a mixture of Waterstone's staff, management and board members, plus publishers and agents. Major trade figures included HarperCollins chief Victoria Barnsley; Gail Rebuck and Ian Hudson from Random House; plus Booker-winning editor Dan Franklin; Simon & Schuster m.d. Ian Chapman; Bloomsbury's Nigel Newton; John Makinson and Jo Prior from Penguin; Headline's Jane Morpeth; and Indie Alliance sales chief Will Atkinson. As he closed his address, Daunt proposed a toast to booksellers, high street booksellers and publishers.
In her short introductory speech, Curtis described the present wave of change in the book trade as "an opportunity to develop new collaborative structures between publishers, retailers and distributors" and the creation of a separate board for Waterstone's as evidence of "a commitment to invest for the long term".