Waterstone's branches roll out "bespoke offer"

Waterstone's branches have begun implementing a promotional strategy based on "local insight and curiosity" rather than central dictates in the wake of the ending of the chain's decade-long three-for-two offer last week.

Last Thursday (6th October) booksellers in Waterstone's up and down the country began tearing three-for-two stickers off books and selecting new titles to place either percentage-off or money-off offers on.  

A spokesperson for Waterstone's said: "We still want to offer value to our customers and so will use a range of promotions, including money off and points offers."

The new autonomy for stores has led to a variety of creative displays in Waterstone's shop floors and windows. In the Sutton Coldfield branch (pictured) there is a display dedicated entirely to baking. Staff at the University of Birmingham branch are running a weekly Top 10 paperback chart of bestselling titles and booksellers' selections, all of which are discounted. The Nottingham branch last week announced its biggest paperbacks would be selling at 25% or 33% off r.r.p.

Paul Aspley, regional manager in the West Midlands, said: "Empowerment, autonomy and creativity are at the heart of what we are trying to do in the shops in my region. We understand people in Stratford-upon-Avon shop in a different way to people in Coventry, who are different again to those in Sutton Coldfield. Now, our booksellers have the freedom to use their understanding of their customers and communities to create a bespoke offer." Feedback had been "excellent" and sales "very encouraging", he added.

Emily Hamer, regional manager for West London, said: "Branches choosing their own promotions is a good idea because it re-focuses all of us back on the books and allows individual shops to show off our booksellers' skills and experience, and excite, challenge and engage our local customers. Each store is unique, and it makes Waterstone's relevant, dynamic and local once again."

Daunt has accepted ending the three-for-two offer will lead to a fall in sales at the chain, but recently told the Telegraph: "Sales will fall, but they are not going to go down for long . . . [Consumers] will come back more often and, ultimately, sales will go up."

The changes at Waterstone's got a thumbs-up from the US literary agent Andrew Wylie, who spoke to The Bookseller from the Frankfurter Hof. He said he expected Daunt to lead a revival of the chain. "Waterstone's is to undergo an energetic and creative rethink. Instead of seven interesting bookstores in England, you are going to have 307," he said.