Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Edinburgh Bookshops Under Threat

Bargain Books Under Threat Edinburgh-based David Flatman Ltd, the firm behind the bookstore chains Bargain Books, Bookworld and bw has gone into administration. It blamed competition from the internet and supermarkets for its decision to shed over 40 jobs and place a threat over another 360.

A spokesman said that sustained competition had “made it increasingly difficult to maintain its large network of high street stores.”

The job losses meant eight of the firms existing fifty book stores closed immediately upon announcement, four at the end of February, with the threat of more if a suitable buyer cannot be found, although there has already been substantial interest from possible buyers.

The company, which still has its headquarters in Edinburgh, has a current turnover of around £30m. After its creation in 1977 the business made its name by selling established authors and titles at competitive prices.

But huge increases in online book sales from sites like Amazon, has put pressure on the Bargain Books and it’s sister stores. Amazon remains dominant with around 75% of the UK online book sales market.

Joint administrator Tom MacLennan said: "Bookworld, Bargain Books and bw are long-established brands in the UK book retailing sector. The business has almost single-handedly developed the market for high street discount book selling."

Whilst competition from the internet and supermarkets has triggered the administration, a turnover of £30m clearly indicates that there is strong demand for discount stores on the high street.

The stores up for immediate closure include Dumfries, Greenock, Stirling, Inverness, Edinburgh Princes Mall, Harrow, Tunbridge Wells and Romford.

Those being closed at the end of February are in Glasgow, Bristol, Perth and Manchester.

The news comes hot on the heels of Waterstone's owner, HMV, announcing it has been struggling to fend off competition from the internet and superstores.

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