Waterstones boss heads to NYC

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Elliott Advisors, owner of Waterstones, has completed an acquisition deal worth £537m for US bookseller behemoth Barnes & Noble following a majority of shareholders giving their approval. The announcement was made on 7 August ahead of the New York stock exchange opening for trading.

 

In a press statement about the completed sale on the Barnes & Noble website, a spokesperson said that Elliott will build upon a strong foundation as it addresses the significant challenges facing the bricks-and-mortar book retail space in the United States, applying a model that successfully turned around Waterstones over the past decade.

 

Elliott will own both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones and, while each bookseller will operate independently, James Daunt will serve as CEO of both companies and relocate from London to New York. Daunt has said although he plans to split his time between London and New York, Waterstones’ COO Kate Skipper will take the reins when he is in the US.

 

Daunt said: “This is a very good day for bookselling. Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling.

 

“With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright.

 

“I look forward very much to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble, being already indebted to Len Riggio for his wisdom and grateful for the welcome and professionalism of the executive team during the acquisition process.”

 

Daunt told The Bookseller: “The majority of my time will be over there, certainly to begin with, not least because that’s where the heavy-lifting part of the job is.”

 

Barnes & Noble is the US’s largest bookseller, with 627 bookstores across all 50 states. It reported sales of $3.662bn for the 2018 financial year.

 

On the home front, Waterstones has recently approved a company-wide 4% bonus following better-than-expected book sales, and will open new bookshops in London this month, and in Glasgow later this year.

 

www.waterstones.com

 

James Daunt photo credit: ©Tom Stockill for This Is Money

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