company_name = Waterstone's
company_type = Subsidiary
foundation = Old Brompton Road, London (1982)
location = Brentford
key_people = Tim Waterstone, Founder
industry = Retail Bookshop
products = books
parent = HMV Group plc
revenue =
homepage = [http://www.waterstones.com www.waterstones.com]

Waterstone's is a United Kingdom–based chain of bookshops. Primarily selling books, other products sold by the chain include cards, diaries, bookmarks and coffee in stores with attached Costa Coffee or Starbucks coffee shops. Its first branch opened in 1982. Waterstone's is the largest 'specialist' bookseller in the United Kingdom, with total sales for the year ending 29 April 2006 of £414 million.


Waterstone's has around 330 shops in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland (including Dublin, Cork and Drogheda), and continental Europe (including Amsterdam and Brussels). An unsubstantial number of the shops are close to universities and offer a wide range of academic books as well as general books. Its flagship London store is on Piccadilly. The main academic branch is on Gower Street, between University College London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The Piccadilly store is the largest bookshop in Europe whilst the Gower Street store has a well-stocked second-hand department. fact|date=August 2008 Together the two have over 14 miles of shelving. The bookshop in Harrods is also a branch of Waterstone's. As well as the Waterstone's brand, the firm also owns the London bookseller Hatchards, founded in 1797 and Irish store Hodges Figgis.

Waterstone's has acquired a reputation for its sympathetic re-use of buildings of architectural and historical interest. Some branches reusing these historical buildings include:

*Deansgate, Manchester
*Bold Street, Liverpool
*Broad Street Independent Chapel, Reading
*Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne "(closed December 2007) [http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2007/12/15/which-city-centre-waterstone-s-should-go-61634-20252426/] "
*Emerson Chambers, Newcastle upon Tyne
*La Scala Cinema, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow [ [http://www.glasgowcinemas.co.uk/lascalacinemagla.html La Scala Cinema Glasgow ] ]
*New Street, Birmingham
*Piccadilly London (formerly Simpsons of Piccadilly)
*Dolphin & Anchor, West Street, Chichester
*Wool Exchange, Bradford
*The Carlton Cinema, Swansea
*Fishergate, Preston
*Corn Exchange, Lincoln
*Edinburgh West End Princes Street
*High Street Worcester
*The formor location of Hodges Figgis (as mentioned is Ulysses), Dublin


The chain was founded by Tim Waterstone after he was sacked by W H Smith. Tim Waterstone changed the face of British bookselling, bringing modern marketing techniques to the sale of highbrow, academic and literary books, providing a "browser friendly" atmosphere, with knowledgeable booksellers (combined experience 23,055 years), a wide range of titles, and smartly-designed shops.

In 1989, W H Smith took a share in the chain, and Waterstone sold out to them in 1993. In 1998, Smiths sold the chain for £300m to HMV Media (now HMV Group plc), a new venture in which EMI was a major shareholder and which already owned the rival Dillons chain. In 1999 the majority of Dillons stores were rebranded as Waterstone's with some sold to rival Ottakar's.

Waterstone's initially started selling books online, but in 2001 franchised its Internet operations to Amazon.com. However, in May 2006 it successfully relaunched its own internet retail site - Waterstones.com in time for Christmas 2006 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4753147.stm BBC NEWS | Business | Waterstone's goes it alone online ] ] . This came on line in September 2006. The online store offers free delivery to a local branch for collection or free UK home delivery for orders over £15.

In 2001 Waterstone's launched a magazine for book lovers, "Waterstone's Books Quarterly". The magazine brings together a mix of news, author features and interviews as well as reviews of over 100 books in each issue. "Waterstone's Books Quarterly" aims to recommend across all genres and encourage readers to consider books and writers previously unknown to them.

In recent years the market for books in the United Kingdom has become more competitive. Owner HMV Group has responded with a "more commercial focus... without compromising on the unrivalled range authority and bookseller knowledge, for which the chain is renowned." However, many book lovers feel that the company has 'dumbed down' since the days of Tim Waterstone. Today's Waterstone's is owned by a music retailer and run by people who have a negligible knowledge of books, but have excelled in other areas of the high street. The aim is to have a chain of bookshops with staff who are passionate about books, but managed by people who understand the challenges of the 21st century retail environment. Whether this formula will work or not remains to be seen.

Takeover of Ottakar's

In September 2005 Waterstone's parent company HMV Group attempted to buy rival book chain Ottakar's, a move which, if successful, would give HMV a near 25% market share of the book trade. As this includes online booksellers and book clubs, the percentage of high street bookselling would be far higher. This alarmed publishers and authors who hoped the Office of Fair Trading would refer the takeover bid to the Competition Commission. They did so on 6 December 2005, whereon HMV's share offer lapsed.

On March 30 2006 the Competition Commission provisionally cleared Waterstone's for takeover of the Ottakar's group stating the takeover would "not result in a substantial lessening of competition", and is "not likely to affect book prices, range of titles offered or quality of service." Through extensive research they also found that "contrary to widespread perception, Waterstone's, like Ottakar's, operates a book-buying system which mixes central and local input on stock selection." [ [http://www.theretailbulletin.com/index.php?page=5&id=8146&cat=news Retail news, jobs, information, data, analysis, events, research and recruitment ] ] [ [http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2006/03/30/afx2632780.html UK Competition Commission gives green light to HMV takeover of Ottakar's UPDATE - Forbes.com ] ]

On May 31 2006, Waterstone's announced that it had successfully negotiated the takeover of Ottakar's. HMV chief executive Alan Giles said: "A combined Waterstone's and Ottakar's business will create an exciting, quality bookseller, able to respond better to the increasingly competitive pressures of the retail market." Ottakar's chairman Philip Dunne said: "Over the last year the book market has undergone a significant change with new levels of competition from the supermarkets and online retailers impacting all specialist booksellers and in particular those with insufficient scale to compete on equal terms." [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/05/31/uotak31.xml&sSheet=/money/2006/05/31/ixcitytop.html]

Following the takeover, HMV announced that they would be rebranding every branch of Ottakar's as a Waterstone's. In July 2006, a conversion programme was initiated and within four months, every Ottakar's store had been successfully relaunched as a Waterstone's. The existing Ottakar's managers and staff were retained. However many found it hard to adapt to a company that was run by retailers rather than booksellers. In the two years after the takeover, over 60% of the former Ottakar's managers resigned from their jobs.

Waterstone's has recently opened new format bookshops in Manchester, Wigan, Reading Oracle and Walton on Thames. The books in these bookshops are organised in a different way, to suit the needs of the modern book buyer. The lessons learned from this new format will be applied to the rest of the Company's estate in the coming year.

Loyalty Programme

Waterstone's has been piloting a loyalty programme in South West England and Wales, which offered members points back on every pound spent on books. The pilot was successful and a national and on-line roll out began on September 6th 2007.

The Loyalty Programme works on the basis of 1 point equals 1 penny. Customers earn 3 points per pound spent. There is also Double Points and Bonus Points on books each month. Benefits of the card are free WBQ (Waterstone's Book Quarterly), exclusive offers instore and online and other benefits.


External links

* [http://www.waterstones.co.uk/waterstonesweb/home.do Waterstone's online]
* [http://www.hmvgroup.com/investors/annual.jsp HMV Group annual reports] — source for sales figures

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