From The Bookseller:
Waterstones has reported a profit for the first time under the ownership of Russian businessman Alexander Mamut and direction of its m.d. James Daunt.
Boosted by “better standards of bookselling”, the 270-store chain saw sales rise by 4% to £409.1m in the year to 30th April 2016, helping it achieve an operating profit of £18.8m, resulting in a pretax profit of £9.9m, after finance costs, compared to a pretax loss of £4.5m a year earlier.
Waterstones’ m.d James Daunt told The Bookseller that the company benefitted from a slow down in the growth of e-book sales and enticed customers back to its high street shops my making them “better, different, nicer” environments to be in. He stressed the importance of the booksellers. “Everything relies on bookselling and offering a better service around bookselling,” Daunt said. “People come into our shops for the knowledge and the service, the success of The Essex Serpent (Waterstones’ 2016 Book of the Year by Sarah Perry, Serpent’s Tail), shows you that. Our support meant a book which would otherwise have achieved modest sales became a bestseller in the most competitive month of December. That is all about the service from bookselling. It is not about posters on the underground, but individual recommendations.”
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Higher sales of non-book products also helped the chain, now accounting for 12% of the company’s turnover. But while Waterstones plans to grow this to 15% over the next three years, the company will always revolve around sales of books, Daunt said. “We are still absolutely 80% a seller of books. I think non-book product simply makes bookshops better. People want the option of buying a children’s toy or stationery as well as books,” he said.
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“Amazon is our only real competitor,” he said.
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Daunt said the company was not missing sales from its direct e-books store, after closing it in May last year to direct customers to Kobo’s. “E-books are a duopoly market and we never really competed in it,” he said. “It is a big boys game.”
Link to the rest at The Bookseller