Gardners to reopen Bertrams' Norwich warehouse

Gardners to reopen Bertrams' Norwich warehouse

Gardners will reopen the Bertrams warehouse in Norwich after its parent company The Little Group bought the assets of the stricken business. Gardners said the move would give it extra warehouse capacity in addition to the Eastbourne operation and allow it to continue to expand its range and stockholding.

In a statement, the joint administrators, Turpin Barker Armstrong said: “We can confirm there has been no sale of Bertram Trading Limited (in administration) or Dawson Books Limited (in administration), though selected assets of these two entities have been purchased by an unconnected third party.” Nigel Wyman, head of sales and marketing at Gardners confirmed the assets had been bought by its parent company, Little Group. 

However, the move won't help those owed money by the now defunct Bertrams business, with publishers still advised to petition the administrator for the payment of their debts; it is also as yet unclear how many of the staff made redundant will be taken on by Gardners, as it works to reopen the operation. Nevertheless, the move is a positive one for the trade, as it increases the capacity of the Gardners wholesaling business, and re-establishes a second operation in the middle of the country.

The wholesaler and distributor purchased the assets of Bertram Trading Limited, which includes the assets of Bertram Books, Bertrams Library Services, and Dawson Books–including the physical building for five years on the lease and some machinery–though it has not bought the trading company and will not trade in Norwich as Bertrams using its name or brand.

Gardners will relaunch the Norwich-based warehouse as a Gardners operation, using it to expand its services and stockholding in addition to its Eastbourne facilities, ahead of the busy autumn and Christmas season. 

Nigel Wyman confirmed that although the parent company had acquired Bertrams' assets, it had not taken on any of its liabilities. 

He said in a statement: "We strongly believe this will further enhance the opportunity to work even closer with retailers and publishers to grow sales in all channels at home and abroad in these very changing and varied times.

"For our suppliers and customers there will be little visible operational change and all will continue to interact, communicate and order with their established Gardners contacts and departments from the Eastbourne operation as they do now."

Gardners has been looking to expand for some time, he told The Bookseller further, explaining that having an additional "ready-made" warehouse in Norwich would give it the capacity to do this.

However, he reitterated the main driver behind the purchase was to allow it "to support the industry over the coming six months and beyond" and make sure it has the stock range and availability to support booksellers.

Gardners will be looking to staff the warehouse as and when it is in a position to get it up and running. The warehouse reopening date is yet to be confirmed. 

Martin Armstrong and Andrew Bailey were appointed joint administrators of Bertram Trading Ltd on 19th June after the company was put up for sale by its parent group Aurelius. Many publishers, who remain concerned about retrieving their stock from the warehouse, have been advised to email Turpin Baker Armstrong. The administrators are solely responsible for getting publishers' stock back, Gardners has confirmed to The Bookseller