Stanfords returns to profit after more than a decade

Stanfords returns to profit after more than a decade

Stanfords has reported an annual profit for the first time since 2002. The company’s two travel bookshops, based in London’s Covent Garden and Bristol respectively, achieved sales of £6.06m for the 12 months to the end of March 2015, a 6.5% increase on the previous 12-month period, posting a trading profit of £27,191.

Stanfords has clawed itself back into profit after reporting losses of just under £40,000 in the 12 months to the end of March 2014. In the year before that, before Stanfords’ current m.d. Tony Maher assumed his position in June 2013, its annual losses were £418,000.

Maher told The Bookseller: “The most important thing is we are reporting a profit for the first time since 2002. We have returned to profit after experiencing growth generally across the board. Year one [of Maher’s tenure] was about stabilising our cost base, year two was about growth.”

Back in November Maher forecast that the company would achieve profitability for the most recent financial year, but it managed to do so despite absorbing a steep 17% increase in rent for its flagship store on Covent Garden’s Long Acre.

Maher said the company’s growth had not been about cutting staff, despite numerous staff changes at the business. “If anything, we have employed more people,” he said.

Stanfords has recently diversified into running horse-drawn tours of London, as well as relaunching the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award and holding a Travel Writers’ Festival at the annual Destinations Show at Kensington Olympia.

Stanfords has also renegotiated terms with suppliers, garnered more support for promotions to customers, and changed the way it handles postage and marketing for its online operation, where it was “losing a lot of money”, according to Maher.

He added that the company was proud of employing “the right people” and, to that end, he gave employees a 10% pay rise when he became managing director in June 2013, followed by a further 7% pay rise shortly afterwards.

At the time of his appointment, Maher pledged that “maps and travel guides will remain at the heart of what we do”.