Watermark Bookstore has revealed plans to expand in the UK, following the opening of the company’s first European bookshop on 19th March at the King’s Cross railway station development site.
LS Travel Retail UK & Ireland, a subsidiary of LS Travel Retail EMEA, which is a division of the Lagardère Services group, said it has identified between 15 and 20 viable locations for Watermark to open in UK airports, and a further 10–15 in railway stations.
The Watermark King’s Cross store is the group’s first railway outlet, and is designed to be a "UK-specific interpretation of LS travel retail’s Watermark Bookstore concept", which was originally adapted to fit the travel market in Sydney Airport. There are other Watermark bookshops at airports in Melbourne, Australia, Toronto, Canada and New York.
Fin Casey, managing director of LS travel retail UK & Ireland, said he was "confident" the new King’s Cross outlet would "set a new benchmark experience for the category".
The King’s Cross development—which is currently being extended with the addition of a new western concourse, which will accommodate 27,000 sq ft of retail space—was "a major event in the history of transport in the UK," Casey said. The Watermark store will be 1,100 sq ft, stocking 6,000–7,000 titles in fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature and Lonely Planet travel books, employing 10-18 staff.
On the type of bookseller Watermark will be, Casey said: "We are not going to be heavily discounting books. Our bookshop will be for people who are passionate about books, and staffed by knowledgeable booksellers who will be able to recommend to customers books they will enjoy."
He added: “Opening Watermark in King’s Cross is part of a wider strategy for us to enter and grow in the UK market, which is one of the top five largest travel markets by passenger volume and number of people in the world.
"Watermark King’s Cross will be our first, but there are other locations we have identified in the last weeks and months leading up to this particular event. We have looked quite carefully at travel locations in the UK market," Casey explained.
The bookshop has partnered with Gardners, which will provide the means for Watermark to sell e-books to customers through its consumer-facing website Hive, as well as supplying its physical stock. Watermark is already listed as an outlet on Hive, which sells Google e-books.
LS Travel Retail’s parent company Lagardère also owns publisher Hachette, and Casey said the two would work together, but declined to give further details.
LS Travel Retail UK & Ireland also currently operates tax- and duty-free and speciality stores in London Luton, London City, Glasgow and Belfast airports, as well as on board four vessels in the Irish Ferries fleet. LS Travel Retail EMEA also runs the French chain Relay.