Waterstone's is shaking up its buying team, seeking people for its new regional commercial and buying posts as it begins to move from local to central buying.
Current Waterstone's staff have been asked to apply for the posts, which include divisional and regional commercial managers roles, as well as jobs in the campaign and range teams. For new titles, the central buying will begin from September, but it is thought for core and local stock the central buying process will take longer.
Publishers have been urged to help Waterstone's sell books "more intelligently" by providing the company with more information on their titles, including sending jackets and AIs to staff as soon as possible, particularly for non-fiction and children's books.
The chain bookseller has told indie publishers: "Keep talking to us—tell us when we're missing opportunities, and continue to talk to our stores about relevant books." It is unclear how Daunt's new plans will affect the jobs of publisher reps, as it is thought that in general local stores are no longer allowed to place orders for new titles.
In an email to staff this week, Waterstone's said: "We are looking to get the team up and running quickly!" and staff have until next Friday (26th August) to apply. All the new roles are on a six-month secondment basis based in Brentford, but it is thought Daunt wants to move the head office to Waterstone's flagship Piccadilly store as early as possible, with its current Brentford head office lease understood to run out in six months' time.
The divisional commercial managers will be in charge of a team comprising 10–12 regional commercial managers. They will manage discount and margin and the relationship between the regional buying team and the central campaign and range buying teams. Each regional commercial manager will be based in a shop but will have responsibility for up to a dozen other branches based on turnover. They will discuss with stores how promotional space will be used and order, monitor and replenish books.
A key priority of Daunt's first few months in charge of the bookseller is understood to be lowering the level of returns.
Daunt previously told staff the chain's infrastructure, from shops to systems, needed a "complete overhaul". As part of this, he moved to reintroduce central buying for new books and replenishment, but added that shops would be able to order the books they wanted, when they wanted. He said: "You will have the autonomy to curate your shops, to be entreprenurial, to exploit the physical individuality of your shops." To help this, he is thought to be dispensing with shop planograms, which dictate how the layout of each store should look.
Staff were also told they were getting a 3% pay rise recently, which will come into effect in the near future.
Speaking earlier this week on BBC Radio 4's "The World at One", Daunt accepted the chain had failed to meet customer expectations in the past. He said: "We are a business that has not satisfied its customers for some time and is paying the price for that. Can we satisfy our customers and win them back? I would not have taken this on if I didn't believe we could, but we need much, much better bookshops."
It is also thought Waterstone's will soon appoint a woman to the role of chairperson, which will be an honorary position.