'Bookshop boom' under way as Winstone's opens second branch

'Bookshop boom' under way as Winstone's opens second branch

A mini UK bookshop boom appears to be under way as a fifth new store opening is announced in a week.

Winstone’s, owned by Wayne Winstone, is to open a second branch in the South West seaside resort of Sidmouth in Devon at the end of this month.

The 860 sq foot store will stock 8,000 titles at its location on the high street and be managed by Carl East, formerly of Waterstones in Exeter.

The news follows the recent opening of the new flagship Foyles branch on London’s Charing Cross Road last weekend (7th June), and the announcements this week that Waterstones will open a branch in Lewes and a Hatchards shop will open in St Pancras Station this summer. Former Borders boss Philip Downer has also revealed he is to open a second branch of Calliope Gifts in Alton, Hampshire, following in the footsteps of his first shop opening in February last year.

Winstone, a former Waterstones employee, currently owns Winstone’s in Sherborne, Dorset, which opened in 2012 and has twice been named the South-west Independent Bookseller of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards.

He said he planned to support local writers and societies in his new Sidmouth store, while hoping to raise the profile of books and reading within the town, focusing particularly on children’s literature.

“If the location is right, the demographic suits your offer, and your customer base is affluent and values its high street, then there is an opportunity to open a bookshop in this climate,” Winstone said.

Asked if this was the start of a Winstone’s mini-chain, Winstone said: “Who knows. Obviously I would like to grow the business but we have to be realistic about the way the market is. The book market has been shrinking by 4.5% each year. The economy seems to be on a rollercoaster and I have to take these figures into account. We have to be mindful of what is going on in the real world.”  

Winstone added that Sidmouth was his original choice of location to open a bookshop. "It is a truly beautiful seaside town and we are very much looking forward to serving the community,” he said.

A second branch of Calliope Gifts has also opened in a 1,200 sq foot unit in the Westbrook Walk shopping centre in Alton. Owner Downer said: “Assuming trading is satisfactory, further openings are planned.” The shops stock a range of books and gifts.

Commercial director Andy Adamson said: “We’ve had terrific support from our suppliers in the preparation of this second store, and we look forward to working with them to grow the business further.”  

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said the new openings showed that these were “exciting” as well as “challenging” times for bookshops. “It is always great to hear about new openings like the wonderful new Foyles flagship store," he said.

"No one can doubt that booksellers, through their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial skills are  absolutely adding value to the bookshop experience for consumers.It is very heartening too to see increased support for bookshops from publishers and authors. There seems to be an increased recognition of the importance of booksellers in bringing books to life and, indeed, authors to the market.”