BCA plans for 30% growth in next year

BCA plans for 30% growth in next year

Book Club Associates has announced plans for 30% growth over the next year after it was bought by the Webb Group in a deal which could potentially see its books sold through Next and Grattan retail catalogues.

BCA, a catalogue-based bookselling company operating since 1966, was bought in March by the Webb Group, which has developed Razamataz and Simply Entertainment DVD catalogues and operates the online shopfronts and catalogues of companies such as Next and Grattan. The company claims its catalogues go to 10 million people and its websites reach 9.7 million unique users a year.

Claire Rose, BCA commercial director, said it is looking to "rebuild and strengthen" its brand. She said: "We want publishers to seize this opportunity to work more closely with us, explore ways to use innovative marketing techniques to reach these new potential customers and further expand their sales through BCA."

It plans to test larger versions of its catalogues, starting with a 48-page speciality club catalogue in July, up from 16 pages, and skewed towards the male, 55-plus audience. A 64-page BooksDirect catalogue will be tested in August, aimed at the women's 45-plus market and with increased pagination. And Books for Children will be rebranded.

The company will also relaunch its website and it could sell books through the Webb Group's touch-screen "buy it here" machines, currently selling DVDs and games in more than 250 convenience stores across the UK.

David Robinson, head of marketing for the Webb Group, said the company had started to trial selling books to Webb Group customers from 23rd May, sending BooksDirect catalogues to a proportion of Simply and Razamataz DVD catalogue customers. 

In its first week, he said the trial "exceeded expectations", acquiring 500 customers, which should increase the size of the BooksDirect database by over 10% in the first year if the trend continues. Robinson said that he thought this would be "an underestimate". The company hopes to grow overall by 30% in its first year. "We have relationships with charities, Next and Grattan. These are all new areas we can take books into," Robinson added.

Following a restructuring under its pre-Webb Group ownership, BCA reported a pretax profit of £1.4m in December 2010 after loans were waived. Without them, the company would have posted an operating loss of £10.8m after it suffered "significant one-time restructuring costs relating to staffing reduction".