Waterstone's is to take control of eight Books Etc stores in London from Borders UK, increasing its presence in Greater London to nearly 50 branches.
Waterstone's said that it planned to retain all of the staff, with the transfer expected to be completed in September, subject to landlord approval. A small consideration was paid by Borders to the stores' landlords as part of the deal. The branches that will be transferred are Fleet Street, London Wall, Holborn, Wandsworth, Uxbridge, Finchley and two sites in Canary Wharf. The planned transfer will give Waterstone's approximately 34,000 square feet of trading space.
The retailer had been made aware the bookshops were available via a property agent. Gerry Johnson, Waterstone's m.d., said that there was a "definite opportunity" to develop Waterstone's business within London. The retailer has around 40 stores in the greater London area. "Crucially these are areas that are not represented by Waterstone's bookshops and it helps us to achieve representation in that market."
"At the end of the day the objective is firstly to secure their long-term future as bookshops," he added. "Secondly the size of the stores fits the Waterstone's offer very well and I'm sure the branches and staff will benefit from being Waterstone's."
The transfer would reduce the number of Borders UK's smaller stores—comprising Books Etc, the airport branches and Borders Express—to 19. Philip Downer, chief executive of Borders UK, said he was "very pleased these stores and their talented booksellers have a secure future and wished them every success".