The Book People fails to secure buyer and makes 155 people redundant

The Book People fails to secure buyer and makes 155 people redundant

The Book People made 155 of its staff redundant on Friday (10th January) after failing to find a buyer. The company will continue to trade online with retained staff "for as long as possible" and "whilst any remaining interest is explored", its administrators have said.

The Book People, which had employed 393 people, went into administration on 16th December. The appointment of Toby Underwood and Zelf Hussain from PricewaterhouseCoopers as joint administrators was as "a result of the difficult trading environment that the business had been experiencing, combined with increasing working capital pressures".

A statement read: "Unfortunately it has not been possible to secure a purchaser of the business and as a result, it is with regret that a number [155] of redundancies have been made today, Friday 10 January 2020. The Book People Limited will continue to trade through the E-commerce channel with the retained staff and the intention is to fulfil and deliver all customer orders received and accepted, whilst any remaining interest is explored."

With its head office based in Godalming, Surrey, the majority of redundancies however impact The Book People's North Wales operation, a 92,000 square foot warehouse in Bangor from which deliveries to customers are co-ordinated. Of the 142 employees based in North Wales, 82 have been made redundant, leaving 60 people employed by the business there. 

Underwood, restructuring partner for PwC, commented: "This is a tough time for everybody associated with the much-loved book brand. Despite best efforts in exploring a sale of the business, it has not been possible to do so. It is therefore with regret that we have had to make a number of redundancies today. Our focus will be on helping the affected employees and to keep the website trading with the retained staff for as long as possible."

The news was released after a number of staff briefings took place on the afternoon of Friday 10th January.

The Book People, founded in 1988 and owned by private equity firm Endless since 2014, specialises in selling children’s books and collections at competitive prices. It is primarily an online retailer, with over 76% of sales going through its online platform. Sales in 2017 were £71.5m, with operating profit at £3.5m. Claire Bayliss had been appointed group c.e.o. over the summer, with "exciting plans to transform the brand", succeeding Simon Mason who had been in the role for six months.