Blackwell’s will open a new bookshop in Manchester tomorrow (Wednesday 20th February), with c.e.o. David Prescott saying the store “feels like nothing we’ve done before”.
The glass-fronted, open-plan store is located at the new University Green retail and leisure development in Oxford Road. Blackwell’s, with the support of the University of Manchester, has operated in nearby temporary premises since 2016 as the new site was developed.
Prescott told The Bookseller: “This stunning new-build bookshop, which looks and feels like nothing we’ve done before, in Manchester’s buzzing innovation district is another bold expression of confidence in our retail proposition, which continues to confound high street gloom.
“The spacious and flexible space allows us to add not just a bookshop, but a new venue to the Manchester cultural landscape. Events are a key part of what we do and we will become a magnet for author signings, talks, book clubs, games nights, family activities, children’s events and book launches. We are even planning some gigs.”
The 7,600 square foot store features a striking industrial and artistic design, which Blackwell’s says reflects the local culture and setting. The design includes a giant mural by local street artist Qubek (aka Russ Meehan) and a wall of ivy.
Blackwell’s said the new shop, which features a Caffe Nero on the upper mezzanine floor, carries all recommended reading for students at both Manchester universities and access to more than 15 million titles as well as placing an an emphasis on new, challenging, bestselling and bookseller recommended titles. Other products include gifts, board games and technology.
Dean Drew, Blackwell’s sales and marketing director, said the new shop will be a catalyst for further growth for Blackwell’s which has increased sales by over 30% in just two years. He said: “The new bookshop supports our growth (grown by a third in just two years) and the growth in trade sales. We are consistently outperforming TCM and especially in the trade categories such as children’s, fiction and lifestyle.”
The Manchester bookshop, which will be managed by Paul Thornton, follows new-build projects at Nottingham University and the Westgate Centre in Oxford, which opened in late 2017. Blackwell's, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, has 32 shops, including flagships in Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh, alongside academic, campus and other specialist shops. There are also 10 dedicated Business Centres within shops serving the corporate market and private and public organisations.
The shop opens for business on Wednesday 20th February. Jeanette Winterson will officially open Blackwell’s Manchester at a launch event on the evening of Tuesday 5th March.