The Guardian Bookshop has been bought by its former head of books Sara Montgomery and its former e-commerce manager Nick Sidwell.
The pair have founded start-up Monwell Limited, and agreed a deal with Guardian News & Media Limited to take over the Guardian Bookshop with immediate effect.
The newspaper group has recently embarked on restructuring different areas of its business as part of a three-year plan to reduce costs by 20% (£50m), which has so far lead to the closure of its dedicated children’s books site in June, the end of the Guardian First Book Prize in April after 17 years, along with various redundancies at the company.
Montgomery said that the business would continue to trade as the Guardian Bookshop and retain the support of the Guardian and Observer newspapers, with all book reviews and features in print and online directing readers to the Guardian Bookshop, along with regular print adverts promoting key titles. All its stock, warehousing and distribution, meanwhile, will continue to be provided by Bertrams.
Montgomery said: “The Guardian Bookshop has had fantastic success in recent years and we are thrilled to now be running it as Monwell Ltd. We are keen to work closely with publishers to help them reach our book-loving audience. We have ambitious plans to grow the Guardian Bookshop business and Monwell.”
She added: “We started this week running it independently, so our first months will be in the run up to Christmas. It is a really useful tool for Guardian readers, it is very popular and it sells an awful lot of books to readers each year – it is one of the largest book retailers in the UK."
The online bookshop was re-launched in October 2014 with a new “significantly improved” design, which saw sales leap by 81% year-on-year. Since then, sales have continued to increase, up 10% last year, shifting over 150,000 units.
Montgomery added: “I have worked for Guardian Books now for seven-eight years and while it was a small part of what the Guardian did, it is something we are extremely proud of. We have plans to make some changes and improvements next year which will be quite substantial."
Along with Sidwell, Monwell’s third employee is marketing manager Joe Wheelan, who has also joined the start-up from The Guardian. Guardian Faber, a non-fiction literary imprint launched by the two companies in 2013, is not part of the deal.
David Magliano, managing director, membership, marketing and consumer revenue, Guardian News & Media said: “The Guardian Bookshop has always been popular with our readers and we are delighted that we have the opportunity, working closely with the team at Monwell, to allow those readers to continue to enjoy this service for years to come.”
David Pagenham, marketing director of Bertrams, added: “At Bertrams we are proud to have had a long and successful relationship with the Guardian Bookshop and are extremely delighted to be continuing to work with the team as they enter this exciting new phase. We wish everyone every success in growing and developing the business and are looking forward to the many opportunities that we can build on together.”
Montgomery can now be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org