The opening of Foyles new flagship store on Charing Cross Road "was almost as good as Christmas Day”, according to the company’s chief executive.
More than 300 customers queued around the block in the pouring rain to await the unveiling of the much-discussed multi-million pound store at 12.30pm on Saturday (7th June).
The first 107 people to enter the store received a specially-designed goody bag, reflecting the store’s new address at 107 Charing Cross Road.
Sam Husain, Foyles chief executive, said footfall and sales “surpassed expectations” on opening day. “It was a very good turn-out. It was very busy and even though we opened at 12.30pm on Saturday - it was almost as good as Christmas Day.”
He added: “The queue formed all the way around the road. We had a lot of young people coming in which is great to see. Everyone has been very positive about the new building, there has been nothing negative said. There were people using the new digital navigation tool to find books which is good to see too. Every department was shopped in from medical through to fiction which is a good indication – it wasn’t just the bestsellers.”
The first book sold in the new store was Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W Norton).
More than 60 people helped move 800,000 books from the old to the new store in five days in preparation for opening day. The store teamed up with Oxford digital agency White October to create a “digital shopping service” enabling customers to browse stock availability and locate books using an interactive map, which also launched in beta on Saturday.
The opening of Foyles’ new flagship store received widespread coverage in the mainstream press, featured on BBC2’s Newsnight on Friday (6th June) and in most national newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent and the Financial Times.
A trade launch party will take place tonight (9th June) and Hilary Mantel will officially open the store in a consumer launch this Friday (13th June).
The formal opening of each new department will then be undertaken by a well-loved figure - Michael Palin will open Travel (11th), Jarvis Cocker will open Music (12th), while next week Simon Armitage will open Poetry, Mary Beard, History and Politics, and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, Children’s and Young Adults.
Several will mark the occasion by unveiling a table of their top 10 books from the department, personally recommended for Foyles customers to discover.
The Grand Opening Festival will run for three weeks until 4th July.