Waterstone's reduces losses despite falling sales

Waterstone's reduces losses despite falling sales

<p>Waterstone&#39;s has reduced its losses by &pound;3m to &pound;9.9m, with total sales down 2.4% to &pound;219.5m and like for like sales down 3.2%.</p><p>In its interim management statement for the six months to 23rd October 2010, the retailer said the improvement in its losses were due to its enhanced local offer and more selective discounting. This was offset by the full year impact of its book hub costs during the period although it added its centralised distribution centre would deliver a &pound;3m profit benefit for its full financial year. Costs were down 5% during the period.</p><p>It said: &quot;The business focus through the period has been on continuing to transform the offer, primarily through an enhancement of range tailored to each local market. This activity has been achieved through effective utilisation of the book hub, which operated successfully throughout the period, including returns processing to publishers. In addition, the store offer has been complemented by investment in the top 20 Waterstone&#39;s stores, the roll-out of 15 Paperchase stationery concessions and an enhanced technology offer across the estate.&quot;</p><p>The retailer said 40% of its range had been refreshed, part of the initiative launched by m.d. Dominic Myers and product director Tim Watson earlier this year. It said it had enhanced its e-book offer, stocking devices by Elonex and iRiver alongside its Sony offer. It is preparing to launch its own e-reading app.</p><p>Parent company HMV Group described Waterstone&#39;s performance as &quot;good&quot; although the retailer did outperform HMV. The entertainment retailer saw total sales fall 15.3%, with like for like sales down 16.1%. Losses almost quadrupled from &pound;6.7m to &pound;24.3m.</p><p>HMV Group c.e.o. Simon Fox said: &quot;The increased seasonal loss reflects the tough trading conditions in HMV UK, where good progress in growing new product categories was not sufficient to offset weak entertainment markets. In Waterstone&#39;s, the recovery plan is on track, and in all businesses we are very well prepared for the important weeks ahead, with a strong line-up of offers across all product categories and a focus on delivering high quality service both in-store and online.&quot;</p><p>Looking ahead, HMV Group said despite an encouraging start to the second half of this calendar year, the recent severe weather has &quot;undermined&quot; sales during the past two weeks. The last four months of HMV Group&#39;s financial year will account for 60% of its sales. It said key books for Waterstone&#39;s were by Jamie Oliver, Michael McIntyre, Sebastian Faulks, Stephen Fry, Nigella Lawson, Keith Richards and Neil MacGregor.</p><p>For the six month period, HMV Group reported total sales down 6.0% to &pound;749.5m and like for like sales down 11.5%. Operating loss nearly doubled from &pound;21.8m in 2009 to &pound;37.3m.</p>