Eason is pumping €20m into the company over the next three years, at the same time as embarking on trade union talks over a restructure that will likely include some job losses.
The Irish bookselling chain announced to staff and employees it would invest the sum "as part of a new strategic plan that will reposition the business in the current extremely challenging retail market environment". The cash is coming from "cash, bank restructuring and some from the €8milion which will be saved over the next three years".
A spokesperson for Eason told The Bookseller the company had already begun consulting with trade union Siptu over how the new plans might impact on employees. Eason managing director Conor Whelan told the Irish Times the cost reduction programme would probably involve job cuts. "It is likely to include both voluntary and compulsory redundancies," he explained.
The spokesperson added the plans were designed to re-establish Eason as one of Ireland’s "leading indigenous retail businesses". They will include creating a new retail, online, digital marketing and brand strategy – the latter two to be launched in April, significant investments in IT and a cost reduction and efficiency plan. The firm will also embark on a programme of store renovations and invest more in category ranges.
Whelan said the retail environment in Ireland was extremely challenging. "The books industry alone has seen the closure of many of our competitors," he added. "Eason however, is more than a bookstore and our scale and diverse product offering allows us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. We are excited about our new retail strategy which will reinvigorate our brand and refresh our core product offerings."
Eason revealed losses of €10m for the year ending 31st January 2010, down from €21m the previous year. The company has 60 stores throughout Ireland, employing over 1,000 people.