Waterstones has signed a lease for a new store in Dorking, the first bookshop opening since the company was bought by Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut from the HMV Group in July 2011.
The store will be the first of around six new openings this year, if expansion at the chain goes to plan, Waterstones m.d. James Daunt told The Bookseller. He also revealed that the company was “looking abroad” for opportunities, although he said an international store opening this year was unlikely.
Waterstones closed a branch in Dorking in September 2011, but the new store will be in a “much better location” to be revealed shortly, Daunt said. It is 1,700 square foot, will have three or four staff, and a large children’s area as a notable feature. The store will be designed in the new format recently implemented at some of the chain’s branches nationwide.
The chain is currently in the process of refurbishing 60 further stores in its estate this year, adding to the 50 it revamped before Christmas last year.
Daunt said that most stores in which refurbishments had taken place were experiencing a sales increase. In a recent letter to branch managers and assistant managers, he said: “Sales are robust, costs and operational process greatly improved and the net performance of Waterstones has made a step-change for the better.”
The current tally of the estate is 286, with the Dorking store taking the figure to 287. This year, Waterstones has closed six campus shops and a branch in Market Street, Leicester.