W H Smith has been crowned The Bookseller's Bookselling Company of the Year, scooping the top prize for the first time in the five-year history of the Retail Awards.
The chain was commended for its growth strategy, despite a difficult trading year for all booksellers, which included the addition of a further 100 new outlets over the year, as well as its ability to "attract and engage with" readers. According to the judging panel, which included author Anthony Horowitz and Ottakar's founder James Heneage, WHS has become "a powerhouse operation" in recent times.
The chain also picked up the Martina Cole General Retailer award for the second year running. WHS won out for picking up on "fresh opportunities in the high street" post-Woolworths, marketing and retail excellence.
The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling, last year given to Gardners' father-and-son team Alan and Jonathan Little, was this year won by Amanda Ross for her work on the "Richard & Judy" Book Club. The judges cited her "£185m boon to the trade" and having "converted vast numbers of lesser readers into regular book buyers".
Last year's Bookselling Company of the Year, Waterstone's, took home two awards this year—for High Street Retailer and for the man behind its recently opened Liverpool One branch, Ian Critchley, who picked up Wiley Manager of the Year. Critchley was applauded by the judges for his "outstanding" work in launching the new shop.
Borders also received two awards "despite the uncertainty at head office", taking home the Usborne Children's Bookseller of the Year and the Nielsen Marketing Campaign award for its Where's Wally? On Google Earth campaign. The Book Depository scooped the Direct to Consumer gong for "tick[ing] all the boxes".
Simply Books beat off tough competition to win the Bertrams Independent Bookseller award, while the Walker Books Children's Independent of the Year went to Jarrolds Children's Book Department.
Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of The Bookseller, said: "We need retail excellence now more than ever, making these, the only awards to recognise the best in bookselling, doubly important."
The Bookseller Retail Awards winners 2009
The Bookseller's Bookselling Company of the Year
W H Smith
Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling
High Street Retailer of the Year
Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year
The Book Depository
Bertrams Independent Bookseller of the Year
Walker Books Children's Independent of the Year
Jarrolds Children's Book Department
Wiley Manager of the Year
Ian Critchley, Waterstone's Liverpool One
Usborne Children's Bookseller of the Year
Martina Cole General Retailer of the Year
W H Smith
Nielsen Marketing Campaign of the Year
Borders Where's Wally? On Google Earth