Waterstone's trials 3-for-2 on all books

<p>Waterstone&#39;s is trialling a three-for-two offer on every book in stock in selected shops, a move that publishers believe is deliberately targeting nearby Borders branches.</p><p>At least 10 stores across Great Britain have taken part in the trial during the past two to three weeks. Waterstone&#39;s staff told <em>The Bookseller t</em>hat the offer is ongoing in at least two stores&mdash;Kingston Bentalls Centre in Surrey and Leeds Albion Street.</p><p>Waterstone&#39;s funded the offer itself and some publishers were unaware that the retailer was running the campaign. One sales director said: &quot;They did it under the cover of darkness. No one came to us. They are obviously within their rights to if they are taking the hit themselves.&quot;</p><p>Another sales director commented: &quot;There isn&#39;t a big pull through on backlist at the moment. I think every retailer is suffering there. Everyone has such focused front-of-store promotions that that is where people are drawn. What Waterstone&#39;s is doing is an effort to drive range sales.&quot;</p><p>However, it was noted that the stores were in close proximity to Borders shops, in many cases less than a mile away. One sales director said: &quot;It&#39;s all about stealing Borders&#39; business to basically push them under.&quot; A Borders spokesperson declined to comment on the claim.</p><p>A spokesperson for Waterstone&#39;s also declined to comment on whether the campaign was targeting Borders. She said in a statement: &quot;In common with all retailers, Waterstone&#39;s often trials promotions in store or online in order to learn how these can improve our business. Our priority is to learn from these activities and in turn improve how we communicate with our customers. We have been running a three-for-two offer on all books in a small number of stores. This is a trial offer for a limited period.&quot;</p><p>The campaign finished in branches in Oxford and Cambridge on Wednesday (10th June). Stores in Cardiff, York and the two Waterstone&#39;s stores in both Glasgow and Birmingham ended the offer last Saturday (6th June).</p><p>One senior publisher questioned whether Waterstone&#39;s could be open to accusations of predatory pricing. However, in order for a retailer to be found guilty of that, the Office of Fair Trading must determine that there was a specific intention to drive a competitor out of business. Pricing also needs to return to its previous levels once the rival has ceased trading. Only two companies have been found guilty of predatory pricing since 2002.</p>