News

Waterstone's closes first ever branch

The first ever Waterstone's branch, which opened in 1982 in west London, will close on Christmas Eve after the retailer decided not to extend the lease on the Old Brompton Road property when it expires on 24th December.

The company said that it intended to relocate the shop's 12 staff to other central London branches. "It is always sad to close a store, but this closure is especially poignant as it was the first branch opened back in 1982," said Waterstone's m.d. Gerry Johnson.

"From that one store we have grown Waterstone's into a 320-plus store company with over 45,00 employees and shops all over the country and further afield. I would like to pay tribute to the current team and to everyone who has worked in the store since its opening, and of course to the countless customers who have enjoyed shopping there over the years."

Waterstone's has been implementing plans to cut 10% of its floor space over three years. It has another branch nearby on Kings Road in Kensington.

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They must be getting close to 10% by now. There should be one of those thermometers outside Brentord Towers, like the ones they use on Blue Peter, letting everyone know how close they're getting to their target.

If they want to reduce floor space, can't they just stock thinner books?

Strange goings on indeed in the allegedly efficient booktrade where boardrooms are meant to be on the ball - jeezh theyse all playing like the Glovers. Pan Bookshop owners decide to desert Chelsea as though all their customers are suffering from pox, or coming on hard times ; then, within a matter of hours Waterstone's jettison a once flagship store, located no more than a quarter a mile away from Pan Bookshop, thus leaving the Kensington customers with a void. Now, if the two closing stores were in poor working class areas this would possibly have some justification, but when the monied classes of Chelsea and Kensington are shunned by shopkeepers, then one wonders where the heck this trade is going and what sort of message it sends to the quality publishers in this country.

I am sure the "10% target" may be further within reach if the rumour mill in Manchester is to be believed. The current urban myth is that Waterstones may be losing one or even both of their Manchester Airport shops through their failure to renew the leases in time and that staff will be re-located throughout the region. I recall this happening at one of their academic branches when Brentford Towers 'forgot' to contact the university authorities in time.

This is worth a moment of nostalgia. When this shop opened 25 years ago it had a devastating effect on bookselling not just in Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea but around the whole of the UK and Ireland

The sales, particularly of hardbacks (genuine sales -net of returns) were astonishing. By the time there were six Waterstone's shops, they sold more hardbacks than all 300 WH Smith shops combined. But it was the shear volume of backlist fiction and non fiction which really made the shops truly and sustainably profitable. They instantly and gloriously satisfied a country wide population starved of access to its own literature

The South Kensington shop- like several of the others- is a victim of its own success, having turned an off- pitch run down retail area into a truly smart and expensive shopping location, a new 25 year lease is presumably beyond the reaches of bookselling

Of the original London shops only Kensington is left, I think. The trade - and all who enjoy reading - owe so much to the courage and character of Tim Waterstone, it's a wonder people don't say so more often.

They must be getting close to 10% by now. There should be one of those thermometers outside Brentord Towers, like the ones they use on Blue Peter, letting everyone know how close they're getting to their target.

If they want to reduce floor space, can't they just stock thinner books?

Strange goings on indeed in the allegedly efficient booktrade where boardrooms are meant to be on the ball - jeezh theyse all playing like the Glovers. Pan Bookshop owners decide to desert Chelsea as though all their customers are suffering from pox, or coming on hard times ; then, within a matter of hours Waterstone's jettison a once flagship store, located no more than a quarter a mile away from Pan Bookshop, thus leaving the Kensington customers with a void. Now, if the two closing stores were in poor working class areas this would possibly have some justification, but when the monied classes of Chelsea and Kensington are shunned by shopkeepers, then one wonders where the heck this trade is going and what sort of message it sends to the quality publishers in this country.

I am sure the "10% target" may be further within reach if the rumour mill in Manchester is to be believed. The current urban myth is that Waterstones may be losing one or even both of their Manchester Airport shops through their failure to renew the leases in time and that staff will be re-located throughout the region. I recall this happening at one of their academic branches when Brentford Towers 'forgot' to contact the university authorities in time.

This is worth a moment of nostalgia. When this shop opened 25 years ago it had a devastating effect on bookselling not just in Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea but around the whole of the UK and Ireland

The sales, particularly of hardbacks (genuine sales -net of returns) were astonishing. By the time there were six Waterstone's shops, they sold more hardbacks than all 300 WH Smith shops combined. But it was the shear volume of backlist fiction and non fiction which really made the shops truly and sustainably profitable. They instantly and gloriously satisfied a country wide population starved of access to its own literature

The South Kensington shop- like several of the others- is a victim of its own success, having turned an off- pitch run down retail area into a truly smart and expensive shopping location, a new 25 year lease is presumably beyond the reaches of bookselling

Of the original London shops only Kensington is left, I think. The trade - and all who enjoy reading - owe so much to the courage and character of Tim Waterstone, it's a wonder people don't say so more often.