Revived indie sees £600k sales

Revived indie sees £600k sales

The revived independent retailer Watkins Books has achieved £600,000 in revenue in the first 12 months of business.

American businessman Etan Ilfeld bought the 110-year-old bookseller on London's Cecil Court after it fell into administration, and reopened it on 13th March last year.

The bookshop was founded in 1897 and moved to Cecil Court in 1901, but fell into hardship in early 2010 after trading became slow, caused by the bad weather and pressure from online competition. The company, which specialises in new, second-hand and antiquarian titles in the mind, body and spirit field, was also hit by a Capital Gains Tax bill of £500,000.

However Ilfeld stepped in to save the historic bookseller and its 11 staff, saying at the time he believed that "the spirituality of London" wasn't yet "dead."

Ilfeld has developed the Watkins Review newsletter into a paid-for magazine featuring new books and articles from authors from the mind, body and spirit genre, which is presently on sale instore, along with an iPad app which readers can download. "It is about to go UK-wide in the summer, and features the 100 most spiritually influential people in the world." Ilfeld said.

The bookshop has developed its online presence including relaunching the website, an interactive map of spiritual places in London, a Facebook page with more than 650 members and Twitter account.

"Sales are about the same in the shop year-on-year before I bought it," said Ilfeld. "About 70% of what we sell is new books, as opposed to secondhand.

"I am pleased with how our first year has gone and feel optimistic for this year."

Ilfeld owns art gallery Tenderpixel, which is also situated in Cecil Court.