News

Waterstone's takes on eight Books Etc shops

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".

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Come on then guys...tell us how much the 'small fee' was then.....would have thought Borders should be paying Waterstone's a large fee in the circumstances...2 of these were due to be closed anyway...

"Crucially these are areas that are not represented by Waterstone's bookshops and it helps us to achieve representation in that market." There was one on Cheapside (nr Holborn) but it closed down. Is it economically viable again suddenly? And how does this fit in with saving 10% store space?

Right on....glad we don't employ any of the Waterstone's decision makers here....would put us out of business....these stores seem worthless in today's market....

Some of these stores are very small e.g. the Holborn one so can not see how viable they are. Many just sold new releases, business and IT books. They had already closed a number of the central London ones in recent years like the one at top of London Bridge.
Waterstones had been rationalising its central London stores as well reducing numbers.
Guess for both it depends when leases are up, as any increase at lease renewal would probably make them uneconomic.

The other store I am surprised Book etc keep going is their one in Gatwick Airport South Terminal airside. Most of their airport ones and Waterstones as well appear to have been sold to WHSmith, and turned into WHS Books stores. Seems strange to keep just this one.

At least the staff get to keep their jobs though, and in todays climate (especially when you live in London) that is everything. The Waterstones style of doing business is totally different to Borders (from the authors point of view) and if anyone can turn these stores around they can.

I don't know about the rest of them but I imagine that Waterstones could do better than Books etc in the Holborn area. What with the lawyers and the LSE students, a very different focus to the one Books etc provides could produce a succesful return.

These are hardly prime bookselling locations post NBA abolition : the key is in the above report ("A small consideration was paid by Borders to the stores' landlords as part of the deal.") When a retailer has to pay the landlord to tear up a lease it says it all. Since no outsiders would know the terms on which Waterstone's take possession (substantial rent-free period ???) we can hardly judge if it was a good days work or just billboard advertising for Waterstone's on-line.

David

Waterstones have already turned round one old books etc - the one on ox street is a great place to shop and from what booksellers tell me are hitting sales target.
I realise that this is prime location - but cant be that prime as even although I work just off ox street I didnt know it existed until it became waterstones.
From your comments it seems like watertsones are dammed if they do and dammed if they dont

What, Borders hands 8 London stores to a competitor on a plate and you're going on about how Waterstone's is bereft of ideas, David? Eh? More interesting is where Borders - and the other Books Etc shops - go from here, although the words 'nowhere' and 'fast' spring to mind.

'Waterstones to turn the business around June'.....get real. I think it is more of an opportunistic chance to allow landlords to keep their sites with tenants, as the retail market is hardly booming in the UK currently.

The Holborn and London Wall struggled with general books even in Books Etc heyday....Gerry Johnson and his chums have not made an investment in the future but more in clinging onto the present. Developing business with the transfer cost going to their former owner...sounds like a cheap not future plan to me.

Keeps the shareholders happy however as they can see one of the HMV brands from the top of the No. 12 bus....but at what long term cost? This style of retailing is hardly setting the world alight is it?

Malcolm - Borders have three stores at Heathrow, two at Stansted and one at Edinburgh. Gatwick is the only store still trading as Books Etc but all the airport stores are still (as of this morning) owned by Borders UK

Thank's for the correction Paul. They have however pulled back from some airport stores. The Gatwick South landside store closed some years ago, and it seems their store is an oddity there as at the North Terminal Waterstones pulled out and handed over to WHS who now have both general and book specific stores there.

Chris there is already a legal specific bookseller in Holborn only a 100m or so away the other side of the old Pearl building. Not sure how that trades, always seemed to be empty whenever I was passing. Same with the Book etc, never understood how it kept going, is tiny and trade always seemed to be slim. The only bookseller which seems to do okay in the City is Waterstones in Leadenhall market but that is a much bigger store with wide stock range. Seems to also do well with its many signing events as a lot appear to get good numbers based upon what you see walking past.

Chris - The LSE students may already be served well enough by the Waterstone's specialist store right next to the LSE. If they need to come go up to Holborn to get their specialist books there could be something wrong. You may well be right about law books but given the specialist Blackwells 200 metres away I think Waterstones should also consider the other businesses around who employ people who are no longer studying and yet still do things like travel, have children, read fiction and non fiction.

Come on then guys...tell us how much the 'small fee' was then.....would have thought Borders should be paying Waterstone's a large fee in the circumstances...2 of these were due to be closed anyway...

"Crucially these are areas that are not represented by Waterstone's bookshops and it helps us to achieve representation in that market." There was one on Cheapside (nr Holborn) but it closed down. Is it economically viable again suddenly? And how does this fit in with saving 10% store space?

Right on....glad we don't employ any of the Waterstone's decision makers here....would put us out of business....these stores seem worthless in today's market....

Some of these stores are very small e.g. the Holborn one so can not see how viable they are. Many just sold new releases, business and IT books. They had already closed a number of the central London ones in recent years like the one at top of London Bridge.
Waterstones had been rationalising its central London stores as well reducing numbers.
Guess for both it depends when leases are up, as any increase at lease renewal would probably make them uneconomic.

The other store I am surprised Book etc keep going is their one in Gatwick Airport South Terminal airside. Most of their airport ones and Waterstones as well appear to have been sold to WHSmith, and turned into WHS Books stores. Seems strange to keep just this one.

At least the staff get to keep their jobs though, and in todays climate (especially when you live in London) that is everything. The Waterstones style of doing business is totally different to Borders (from the authors point of view) and if anyone can turn these stores around they can.

'Waterstones to turn the business around June'.....get real. I think it is more of an opportunistic chance to allow landlords to keep their sites with tenants, as the retail market is hardly booming in the UK currently.

The Holborn and London Wall struggled with general books even in Books Etc heyday....Gerry Johnson and his chums have not made an investment in the future but more in clinging onto the present. Developing business with the transfer cost going to their former owner...sounds like a cheap not future plan to me.

Keeps the shareholders happy however as they can see one of the HMV brands from the top of the No. 12 bus....but at what long term cost? This style of retailing is hardly setting the world alight is it?

What, Borders hands 8 London stores to a competitor on a plate and you're going on about how Waterstone's is bereft of ideas, David? Eh? More interesting is where Borders - and the other Books Etc shops - go from here, although the words 'nowhere' and 'fast' spring to mind.

David

Waterstones have already turned round one old books etc - the one on ox street is a great place to shop and from what booksellers tell me are hitting sales target.
I realise that this is prime location - but cant be that prime as even although I work just off ox street I didnt know it existed until it became waterstones.
From your comments it seems like watertsones are dammed if they do and dammed if they dont

These are hardly prime bookselling locations post NBA abolition : the key is in the above report ("A small consideration was paid by Borders to the stores' landlords as part of the deal.") When a retailer has to pay the landlord to tear up a lease it says it all. Since no outsiders would know the terms on which Waterstone's take possession (substantial rent-free period ???) we can hardly judge if it was a good days work or just billboard advertising for Waterstone's on-line.

I don't know about the rest of them but I imagine that Waterstones could do better than Books etc in the Holborn area. What with the lawyers and the LSE students, a very different focus to the one Books etc provides could produce a succesful return.

Malcolm - Borders have three stores at Heathrow, two at Stansted and one at Edinburgh. Gatwick is the only store still trading as Books Etc but all the airport stores are still (as of this morning) owned by Borders UK

Thank's for the correction Paul. They have however pulled back from some airport stores. The Gatwick South landside store closed some years ago, and it seems their store is an oddity there as at the North Terminal Waterstones pulled out and handed over to WHS who now have both general and book specific stores there.

Chris there is already a legal specific bookseller in Holborn only a 100m or so away the other side of the old Pearl building. Not sure how that trades, always seemed to be empty whenever I was passing. Same with the Book etc, never understood how it kept going, is tiny and trade always seemed to be slim. The only bookseller which seems to do okay in the City is Waterstones in Leadenhall market but that is a much bigger store with wide stock range. Seems to also do well with its many signing events as a lot appear to get good numbers based upon what you see walking past.

Chris - The LSE students may already be served well enough by the Waterstone's specialist store right next to the LSE. If they need to come go up to Holborn to get their specialist books there could be something wrong. You may well be right about law books but given the specialist Blackwells 200 metres away I think Waterstones should also consider the other businesses around who employ people who are no longer studying and yet still do things like travel, have children, read fiction and non fiction.