News

Waterstone's to close Milton Keynes branch

Waterstone’s has told staff it is closing its Milton Keynes branch.

Staff were informed yesterday of its forthcoming closure, with a final day to be disclosed. It follows the closure of its Lancaster University store last Friday (18th November) after its lease expired. The bookseller is understood to be in consultation with staff in both branches about possible redeployment.

Meanwhile, the retailer has opened a pop-up shop in Dorking for the Christmas period. It replaces its branch that closed last month although the bookseller is hoping to find a site for a new permanent store in the town.

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I said Waterstones HAD to embark on a big closure programme it was obvious . Very unwise to make great statements about no store closures. .

another one bites the dust. it is difficult to understand how the closure of various branches can be kept quiet in this day and age!

When Ottakar's opened up here it was a lovely store; then Waterstone's moved in and now they are closing down. Downstairs Paperchase have taken over and upstairs Costa Coffee reign supreme so books have been shoved aside somewhat. And the escalator takes you up, but not down. One can only hope that C. & A. will return to our shores and fill this shop with good stuff.

Been there.. twice. From experience, my advice would be --

Check any paperwork sent out from HR (redundancy calculations). Mistakes get made.

Decide if you really want to work until the bitter end, when the last cardboard box is filled up with unreturnable stock destined for the Returns Company. Stripping out what used to be a vibrant, loved workplace is heartbreaking. Doing it with HHTs that fall over every half hour adds a new dimension of misery.

Probably so, but when? Unless they are doing it piecemeal as and when the leases come up for renewal. Must be costing a fortune in the case of under-performing stores.

Which Milton Keynes branch is closing down? - There's the big one (former Ottakars) and there's a smaller one.

Hmmm.. sad news... Edinburgh East End closed on Christmas Eve last year.

It is Midsummer branch, your right the world has gone mad. It is the better bookshop, now there's no good bookshop in Milton Keynes guessing I'll be popping to Tesco for books now and Asda for book signings!

It may be the better branch but if it's bigger it may be costing more to run and staff. It may just be a case of two stores overall losing money. One has to go, so it's the one which ends its lease first.

Sad but if Daunt kept all the stores open that were losing money then the whole chain could go. We're in recession. Terrible for the staff, I really feel for then but better them few than thousands of us out of work.
Not much consilation I know...

It's terribly sad news, and hopefully the booksellers concerned will manage to relocate to other branches. However, (I may have this wrong and stand to be corrected), but I don't think James Daunt ever said definitely that there wouldn't be branch closures, only that he hoped closures wouldn't be necessary (or that's the gist I picked up from his statement back when he took over, the phrasing was very careful, I thought). It was always going to be pretty much impossible to keep 300+ branches open and it is tough out there. As for not announcing the closures, I don't think it's Waterstones policy to ever officially announce a branch closure, we always seemed to find the news out by accident - I don't think that decision had anything to do with James Daunt. The very best of luck to the Milton Keynes booksellers.

Akabusi - prepare to be gutted, dear.

I don't know Milton Keynes, but this can only be happening because the lease is nearing the end.

The odd thing is that unless landlords have a new tenant lined up (wonder which charity shop it'll be? LOL) then they would be extremely keen to keep the existing tenant.

Could be the shop isn't doing as well as people abve think?

I don't know what sales are like across the whole estate but it's looking like a poor Christmas, and for that matter, a poor year for Waterstone's. I'm afraid it looks like many more stores will close over the next couple of years.

A lot will ride on how Waterstone's reenters the ebook market.

I see there was key phrase in your statement there - 'I don't know'

I also get the impression you will continue not to... perhaps we should get Christmas over and done with before we judge on how good it was? - despite the various slowdowns across the entire retail sector and entire economy

on a more relevant point, its a shame, I quite liked the Midsummer branch, it's art section was well maintained (last time I was there)

Let's be honest though, it ain't looking good is it?

I couldn't possibly comment... for everyone

But its not looking good for UK PLC in general, let alone bookselling and/or Waterstone's

Waterstones will have a tough Xmas. They do not currently have enough stock to cope with any quick upturn in sales.

Their front of store looks bland, they have no price offer to talk of and no depth of range.

I like Waterstones, and really hope they get their act together, but if they don't do it THIS WEEK it will be too late to change Xmas performance.

I am happy for Dorking 'pop-up' store. Amazingly the manager had more trust in the event of Daunt finding a new location & talked some members of staff into keeping the faith too, just as we come to another stressful time of year. Good luck with the Xmas atmos & getting word out there you are back in business team Dorking.

The sad truth is that if Waterstone's is going to survive in a Daunt Books-style format (and that is the only way it will survive, as WHS have the mid-market covered), the chain probably needs to lose at least two thirds of its estate, assuming that the current migration from the high street to online bookselling continues. James Daunt knows that, which is why he's not renewing leases on stores unless they have a very healthy bottom line.

In his defence, I'd say that he's managing this process of contraction more wisely than HMV would have done and I'm sure that the decision to close Milton Keynes wasn't taken lightly. The store was very successful under Ottakar's, but the rent was high and I'd imagine that their sales were more vulnerable to the drift to Amazon than the more traditional city centres. If Waterstone's is going to survive, there will be a lot more closures to come, but it's a lot better than the alternative, which the chain faced earlier in the year.

As far as James Daunt goes, I think we have to remind ourselves that he's only been in the job for 20 weeks. He didn't have enough time to prepapre for this Christmas and took over after several months of a very destructive inertia, whilst the chain's fate was being decided. Next year will be the acid test.

Well publisher, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have all the books I need in sensible quantities.
My range is improving all the time, and most importantly staff morale is higher than I have seen
for a long long time. If our shop ends up closing for some reason or another,
I would blame the internet and the publishers NOT JAMES DAUNT
All the very best of luck to the Booksellers who are loosing their jobs.

I said Waterstones HAD to embark on a big closure programme it was obvious . Very unwise to make great statements about no store closures. .

Probably so, but when? Unless they are doing it piecemeal as and when the leases come up for renewal. Must be costing a fortune in the case of under-performing stores.

another one bites the dust. it is difficult to understand how the closure of various branches can be kept quiet in this day and age!

When Ottakar's opened up here it was a lovely store; then Waterstone's moved in and now they are closing down. Downstairs Paperchase have taken over and upstairs Costa Coffee reign supreme so books have been shoved aside somewhat. And the escalator takes you up, but not down. One can only hope that C. & A. will return to our shores and fill this shop with good stuff.

Been there.. twice. From experience, my advice would be --

Check any paperwork sent out from HR (redundancy calculations). Mistakes get made.

Decide if you really want to work until the bitter end, when the last cardboard box is filled up with unreturnable stock destined for the Returns Company. Stripping out what used to be a vibrant, loved workplace is heartbreaking. Doing it with HHTs that fall over every half hour adds a new dimension of misery.

Which Milton Keynes branch is closing down? - There's the big one (former Ottakars) and there's a smaller one.

It is Midsummer branch, your right the world has gone mad. It is the better bookshop, now there's no good bookshop in Milton Keynes guessing I'll be popping to Tesco for books now and Asda for book signings!

Akabusi - prepare to be gutted, dear.

Hmmm.. sad news... Edinburgh East End closed on Christmas Eve last year.

It may be the better branch but if it's bigger it may be costing more to run and staff. It may just be a case of two stores overall losing money. One has to go, so it's the one which ends its lease first.

Sad but if Daunt kept all the stores open that were losing money then the whole chain could go. We're in recession. Terrible for the staff, I really feel for then but better them few than thousands of us out of work.
Not much consilation I know...

It's terribly sad news, and hopefully the booksellers concerned will manage to relocate to other branches. However, (I may have this wrong and stand to be corrected), but I don't think James Daunt ever said definitely that there wouldn't be branch closures, only that he hoped closures wouldn't be necessary (or that's the gist I picked up from his statement back when he took over, the phrasing was very careful, I thought). It was always going to be pretty much impossible to keep 300+ branches open and it is tough out there. As for not announcing the closures, I don't think it's Waterstones policy to ever officially announce a branch closure, we always seemed to find the news out by accident - I don't think that decision had anything to do with James Daunt. The very best of luck to the Milton Keynes booksellers.

I don't know Milton Keynes, but this can only be happening because the lease is nearing the end.

The odd thing is that unless landlords have a new tenant lined up (wonder which charity shop it'll be? LOL) then they would be extremely keen to keep the existing tenant.

Could be the shop isn't doing as well as people abve think?

I don't know what sales are like across the whole estate but it's looking like a poor Christmas, and for that matter, a poor year for Waterstone's. I'm afraid it looks like many more stores will close over the next couple of years.

A lot will ride on how Waterstone's reenters the ebook market.

I see there was key phrase in your statement there - 'I don't know'

I also get the impression you will continue not to... perhaps we should get Christmas over and done with before we judge on how good it was? - despite the various slowdowns across the entire retail sector and entire economy

on a more relevant point, its a shame, I quite liked the Midsummer branch, it's art section was well maintained (last time I was there)

Let's be honest though, it ain't looking good is it?

I couldn't possibly comment... for everyone

But its not looking good for UK PLC in general, let alone bookselling and/or Waterstone's

Waterstones will have a tough Xmas. They do not currently have enough stock to cope with any quick upturn in sales.

Their front of store looks bland, they have no price offer to talk of and no depth of range.

I like Waterstones, and really hope they get their act together, but if they don't do it THIS WEEK it will be too late to change Xmas performance.

I am happy for Dorking 'pop-up' store. Amazingly the manager had more trust in the event of Daunt finding a new location & talked some members of staff into keeping the faith too, just as we come to another stressful time of year. Good luck with the Xmas atmos & getting word out there you are back in business team Dorking.

The sad truth is that if Waterstone's is going to survive in a Daunt Books-style format (and that is the only way it will survive, as WHS have the mid-market covered), the chain probably needs to lose at least two thirds of its estate, assuming that the current migration from the high street to online bookselling continues. James Daunt knows that, which is why he's not renewing leases on stores unless they have a very healthy bottom line.

In his defence, I'd say that he's managing this process of contraction more wisely than HMV would have done and I'm sure that the decision to close Milton Keynes wasn't taken lightly. The store was very successful under Ottakar's, but the rent was high and I'd imagine that their sales were more vulnerable to the drift to Amazon than the more traditional city centres. If Waterstone's is going to survive, there will be a lot more closures to come, but it's a lot better than the alternative, which the chain faced earlier in the year.

As far as James Daunt goes, I think we have to remind ourselves that he's only been in the job for 20 weeks. He didn't have enough time to prepapre for this Christmas and took over after several months of a very destructive inertia, whilst the chain's fate was being decided. Next year will be the acid test.

Well publisher, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have all the books I need in sensible quantities.
My range is improving all the time, and most importantly staff morale is higher than I have seen
for a long long time. If our shop ends up closing for some reason or another,
I would blame the internet and the publishers NOT JAMES DAUNT
All the very best of luck to the Booksellers who are loosing their jobs.

From what I have seen, you are in a minority.

Wait till a title starts shifting in big numbers, then see how your stock situation is. I'm not Waterstones bashing. I love Waterstones, and will do everything I can to support it.

As for blaming publishers if Waterstones failed, well. Fine. How dare we ask for a fair price for our product. The idea that we give Amazon much bigger margin is a myth. The reason they can out price you is lack of overheads. Sadly, shops are expensive.

Yes. Choose that one line, and ignore everythng about loving Waterstones and wanting to support it. Sigh

The Bat says: Amazon sell Martina Cole's new hardcover novel (rrp £19.99) picked, packed and shipped to your door for £8.20...we buy this in for £12.99....

wow, that is quite a bargain - my Christmas present problem has been solved.

The Bat says: ...but poor old Amazon will make a loss of around £5...well maybe they'll make it up on A Publisher's titles....

Don t think they will. They seem to make very little if anything on many. Others, they do.

Lots of rather odd hysteria on this thread.

MK has two branches in close proximity. Waterstones have been closing down branches in towns with dual locations since the Ottkars takeover. Hardly thye chimes of doom. They're just being sensible.

Sad for all the good booksellers within this branch though, and there are a few good ones in this branch (not in the other though).

Well I am booksigning and pawtograph signing our book 'Smokey the very Loud Purring Cat' at Milton Keynes Midsummer Place tommorow afternoon at 1.pm. Smokey is the Guinness World Records record holding cat and will be there giving mega purrs of support for Waterstones to bring in the customers.
You don't get animal attraction like that online. That's purr power.
Smokey the cat is an International celebrity and has been featured on ABC news, NBC news and Animal Planet Discovery from the States and on DAYBREAK tv, Anglia TV and BBC Look East and in every UK national newspaper and radio stations all around the world. So even in times of difficulties Waterstones can still attract the A-list celebrites in store! (That's the cat not me! I'm just the author)
Hopefully the book signing will be featured on BBC Radio Northampton and paws crosssed that Heart FM will broadcast an interview with Smokey from the store.
See you all at Milton Keynes tomorrow.

Well, if that doesn't save them...

The book signing for 'Smokey the very Loud Purring Cat' at Waterstones in Milton Keynes went very well.The visitors loved the fact that they could stroke and rub an International celebrity without getting a restraining order placed on them. The store was massive and the staff very friendly and we really enjoyed our afternoon and even sold a few pawtographed books as well. Heart FM radio sent a news reporter (they have been featuring/serlalising the story) they have posted pictures of the book signing at Milton Keynes on their web site.

Perhaps the successful signing with a loudly purring cat on hand will persuade the powers that be to keep this shop open for another month or two? But it must be unsettling times for the staff.