BA launches independent bookshop comparison scheme

<p>The Booksellers Association has unveiled a benchmarking scheme for independent booksellers. The initiative will allow individual booksellers to compare the performance of their shops with other independents.</p><p>A pilot scheme for the Fitness Programme was launched earlier this year by the BA&rsquo;s Independent Booksellers Forum. Booksellers from the IBF&rsquo;s panel took part in a study to determine which criteria should be made available for comparison.</p><p>Data is collected from participating booksellers on a confidential basis. Indies supply details on seven criteria; turnover, cost of purchases, overheads, opening hours, square metre space, stock value and number of books in stock. The information is processed and then returned to booksellers, who receive information such &quot;sales per square metre&quot;, as well as average performance figures across the sector.</p><p>Meryl Halls, head of membership services at the BA, said that the programme was an extension of the information shared at IBF events. She said: &quot;It seemed right to take another step forward, and try to formalise all the strengths of the IBF into something practical, beneficial to bookselling businesses and also potentially fascinating to the sector and the wider industry.&quot;</p><p>She added: &quot;What&rsquo;s really exciting is what potentially flows from this exercise though&mdash;booksellers in the pilot have already told us that they found the process of participating very instructive, and they feel like they are already closer to their own businesses as a result. This is all the more important during a recession.&quot;</p><p>Philip Wicks, owner of Yorkshire Books, was one of the independent booksellers who took part in the scheme. He said: &quot;There&rsquo;s the hope that there will eventually be enough data for it to be a gold standard of comparison but we wanted to go through a pilot scheme to iron out any potential creases.&quot;</p><p>Wicks said that the more indies that sign up to the programme, the more specifically tailored information they could receive. &quot;One of the potential problems that people raised with us is that not all indies have a coffee shop, for example. Therefore the more people we can get in, the more we can segment it for individual businesses. The more who do it, the better quality the comparison will be.&quot;</p><p><em>The Bookseller will run a page of pictures of events from Independent Booksellers Week. Please send your pictures to felicity.wood@bookseller.co.uk, or add them to our Flickr steam at flickr.com/groups/thebookseller.<br /></em><br />&nbsp;</p>