Wordery founders sell 49% stake to Connect Books

Wordery founders sell 49% stake to Connect Books

Connect Books has bought the remaining 49% stake in Wordery to become the sole owners of the retailer.

Wordery – an online bookseller – was established in October 2012 as a joint enterprise between Connect Books, which owned a 51% stake, and former Book Depository IT director Will Jones and founding partners Steve Potter, Rob Johnson, Lee Valentine and Tim Williams who owned the remaining 49%.

Connect Books, owned by the Connect Group Plc, has now bought the remaining 49% shares owned by the four founders for an undisclosed sum, making Wordery a wholly-owned subsidiary by Connect Books. However, it will continue to operate as a standalone business unit with the same staff. A Connect Books spokesperson told The Bookseller it would be “business as usual” at the retailer.

Justin Adams, managing director of Connect Books, said the platform was “integral” to the company’s growth strategy.

“I am delighted that Wordery is now fully part of the family of businesses that makes up Connect Books,” he said. “Wordery has achieved impressive growth since its launch in 2012 and is integral to our vision and long-term growth strategy. This acquisition is part of an investment plan for sustainable growth for the business which will continue to operate as a standalone business unit.”  

Will Jones, managing director and founder of Wordery, added: “I am delighted to be formally joining Connect Books. This is a logical development for us and it will be business as usual with our publishers and our other relationships.”

The Wordery team of 10 employees will remain in Farnborough, with Connect Books headquartered in Norwich.

The company has achieved rapid growth since it was founded in 2012. The most recent accounts filed at Companies House show that for the 14 months to 31st August 2014, sales accounted for £23.2m, up from £9.9m in 2013. Pre-tax profit meanwhile was £494,000, up from £22,000 a year earlier.

The company has not yet released its sales figures for the year ending August 2015.

When it launched, Wordery sparked anger from some independent bookselles who said that as a wholesaler, Connect Books should not be going into competition with them. At the time, Emma Milne-White from Hungerford Bookshop said: "They are a wholesaler, but they are meant to be supporting us too and I do think that the relationship element is important. I think the principle is more shocking than the reality."

However, then m.d Graeme Underhill defended the creation as a necessary development for the company to "thrive and prosper as a wholesaler."