Waterstones buys Foyles

Waterstones buys Foyles

Waterstones has acquired the Foyles bookshops from the Foyle family. The fee has not been disclosed.

The retailer has bought the Charing Cross Road flagship, Foyles'  three shops in London – Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo and Westfield Stratford – and shops in Bristol, Birmingham and Chelmsford. 

James Daunt, Waterstones m.d., said: “We are honoured to be entrusted with the Foyles business, and greatly look forward to joining forces with the Foyles bookselling team.  Together, we will be stronger and better positioned to protect and champion the pleasures of real bookshops in the face of Amazon’s siren call. It is an exciting and invigorating time in bookselling as good bookshops are rediscovering their purpose in the fight back against online and e-reading.  At Waterstones, we see our future as responsible stewards of shops that strive to serve their customers each according to their own distinct personality.  This is nowhere more important than with those shops – Hatchards, Hodges Figgis and now Foyles – that have such singular heritages.

"The Foyles booksellers join a company that celebrates the traditional virtues of Foyles bookselling as equally as it does the illustrious history of Foyles itself.  We take on this responsibility with pride and confidence and are committed to ensuring Foyles a future as bright as its past.”

Christopher Foyle said: “My family and I are delighted that Foyles is entering a new chapter, one which secures the brand’s future and protects its personality. I look forward to witnessing the exciting times ahead for the company founded by my Grandfather and his brother 115 years ago.”  

The transaction is expected to complete before the year end, and the terms are not disclosed. Paul Currie, current chief executive of Foyles, and finance director John Browne will leave the business once the sale is completed.

Daunt told The Bookseller that he was a big fan of the business "as a fellow London bookseller" and owner of rival indie Daunt Books. "I am excited and respectful of the history." But he added that taking advantage of Waterstones' buying power and its centralised services, such as the hub, would enable the bookseller to shore up its future. Daunt said there had been no pressure on him since Waterstones' sale to Elliott Advisers to grow the business, and that he had been approached by Foyles to acquire the company. He said he would not seek to appoint a new m.d. for the company, but allow individual stores to manage themselves, as is the case across its estate.

A statement from Foyles said that Christopher Foyle and the other shareholders had "made significant investments in rebuilding and developing the business", but had made the decision to sell. "We have been determined to ensure that the buyer would both preserve and invest in the business. James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones, has assured us of his desire to maintain and celebrate the Foyles name and our distinct bookselling identity. Whilst the decision to sell has been a hard one, we are confident that Waterstones will nurture and protect Foyles for the good of the business, its staff and its customers."

Foyles had sales £26.6m in 2017, but made a loss of £89,000. Waterstones recorded sales of £388m in the period to April 2017, reporting a profit of £18m.