Waterstone's hub ending year 'on a high'

<p>Waterstone&#39;s has moved to reassure agents concerned by this autumn&#39;s problems with the Hub by hosting its first agent seminar. The event was held in its Piccadilly branch, with more than 60 agents attending. The chain this week also sent out the latest hub update, with m.d. Gerry Johnson saying that the distribution centre was ending the year &quot;on a high&quot;.</p><p>Johnson said that Waterstone&#39;s was &quot;satisfied with availability on key lines including all the promoted titles, Supertier and local bestsellers.&quot; But he said that backlist availability &quot;still has a little way to go to bring us into line with last year,&quot; adding: &quot;We make progress every week but as the gap closes so progress slows. It is also clear that underlying availability from distributors is causing backlist availability issues.&quot;</p><p>From now on agents will also be included in the distribution of the regular &quot;Hub updates&quot;. Johnson stated that the hub was now sorting and packing up to 400,000 books a day, and expects to ship four million books in the next two weeks, moving to a six-day operation from next week. &quot;We are very pleased with the way the Hub is coping with peak volumes, today we delivered over 465,000 books to stores,&quot; he said.</p><p>On returns, Johnson said that the returns pilot in three stores had &quot;gone well&quot; and it had been extended to the chain&#39;s academic branches for more testing. &quot;It will be ready for full implementation in the new year,&quot; he said.</p><p>Waterstone&#39;s half-year results are published on Friday 11th December, with analysts expecting parent HMV Group to post a narrower pretax loss for the first half of this year, with some sayin g earlier this year that profits may have been impacted by problems at the chain&#39;s hub. Publishers will also be awaiting news on Christmas trading, particularly in light of Borders&#39; administration.</p><p><a href="../news/98712-publishers-voice-fears-over-hub.html" target="_blank" title="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/98712-publishers-voice-fears-over-hub.... October, <em>The Bookseller</em> reported publisher concern over the roll-out of the hub and subsequent supply problems over the autumn. </a>The chain has since refused to talk to <em>The Bookseller</em>, and would not comment on this article.</p>