A new branch of a growing tearooms and bookshop chain is to open in Chester this weekend.
Beatons Tearooms Ltd, which is also a bookshop, was first founded by owner Patrick Duffy in 2010 in Tisbury, Wiltshire. Beaton's outlets are “very much a tearooms,” Duffy, said, “but the book stock is also something we put quite a lot of effort into and are important to our customers.”
The growing mini-chain also has a shop in Blandford, North Dorset, and hopes to open another outlet in Berkshire later this year. The Chester branch is a franchise and there is interest from other franchisees to open in other locations in the country.
The Chester branch, which will open over this Easter weekend, will dedicate around 15% of its store space to books and even have a House Poet – author Liz Darcy Jones – who is currently curating the shop's book stock.
She told The Bookseller: “About 15% of our floorspace is reserved for books, and we hold a very carefully curated mix of about 400 titles…There is plenty of interest in terms of future franchises as books and tea appear to be a canny recipe to help keep our local high streets alive - feeding bodies and minds!”
Darcy Jones added: “We don't discount and our customers are quite comfortable to pay full price for titles that arouse curiosity, add sparkle and add a touch of elegance or savoire faire to their homes - the unsung bestsellers.”
Around 20% of the book title stock will be dedicated to local authors’ work and the company also “makes a point” of featuring local authors on its blog.
The Chester Beatons Tearooms is Beaton's first city outlet based in Bell Tower Walk near Chester Cathedral and gives the business a national presence, the company said.
Steve Roberts, who has worked in IT for 25 years, will open and run the tearooms and bookshop under a franchisee model.
He said: “When I discovered Beatons, I found a place where you are made to feel special the moment you walk in. With loose-leaf teas, home-made cakes and light meals plus a book selection designed to amuse and delight, it’s a magic formula.”
The company said the combined tearooms and bookshops group has “successfully positioned itself to fill the gap in the retail book market as high streets rue the loss of independent bookshops, something Chester has suffered from in recent years.”
Yesterday, The Bookseller reported that independent bookshop numbers fell again in 2014, from 987 to 939, a loss of 48 throughout the year.