Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Melb Uni Bookshop to close; Co-op Bookshop to open stores in existing locations

The University of Melbourne has announced that the Melbourne University Bookshop will close in May, and the Co-op Bookshop will operate the bookstores at the university’s Parkville campus.

In an email sent to all university staff last week, Ian Marshman, senior vice-principal of the university, said that the university has selected the Co-op Bookshop to operate bookstores on its main campus after a tender process, which was announced in 2011.

The Melbourne University Bookshop will close its operations in Grattan Street and at the Baillieu Library on 17 May. The Co-op Bookshop will begin trading from the same locations on 21 May. Marshman said that the Co-op is also ‘committed to investing in the set-up of a new location in Swanston Street’.

‘Where possible, Melbourne University Bookshop staff whose positions are being made redundant will be redeployed within the university,’ said Marshman. ‘They will also be free to apply for roles with the Co-op. The university has informed all staff of their entitlements if they are made redundant or—in the case of casuals—when their employment ceases. In many cases, the arrangements are in excess of the current staff entitlements.’

Marshman said that ‘where required, staff undertaking new roles within the university will be provided with reasonable training and development support’. ‘Those leaving the university will also be offered assistance including resume writing and job search techniques.’

Greg Smith, chief marketing officer for the Co-op Bookshop told Bookseller+Publisher that all current Melbourne University Bookshop staff  ‘have been offered the opportunity to apply for positions’ in the Co-op stores, which will operate under a license agreement.

Smith said that the Co-op is ‘currently reviewing’ how the bookstores will sell ebooks. Melbourne University Bookshop recently launched an ebookstore on the ReadCloud platform, while the Co-op Bookshop partners with Google to sell ebooks. Smith did confirm, however, that the license to operate the stores includes the Melbourne University Custom Book Centre and the Co-op plans to continue to offer this service ‘at this stage’.

In his email, Marshman thanked the bookshop staff, who he said ‘have provided a quality service to staff, students and the rest of the university community over the years’ and ‘have displayed enormous professionalism and dedication over a difficult period of review and transition’.

‘As a specialist retailer which is ten times the size of the Melbourne University Bookshop, the Co-op Bookshop has the demonstrated capacity to deliver efficiencies in purchasing and inventory control, recruitment and training of staff and accounting and financial management,’ said Marshman of the selection of the Co-op. ‘[The chain] will also have the increased scale necessary to introduce new technology and modes of delivery (such as ebooks, online content etc.) to cater for changing expectations of its student clientale.’

As previously reported by Bookseller+Publisher, the university called for tenders from specialist book retailers to take over the operation of the bookshops on campus in 2011, following an external review that was commissioned to examine the recent financial performance of the bookshop and to ‘explore options available to bring the bookshop back to profitability’. Marshman said at the time that the bookshop had been ‘operating on reduced revenue, reflecting a trend that is happening across the industry’ and was being affected by external factors such as increases in online shopping, the dominance of global retailers such as Amazon, ebooks and the strength of the Australian currency, as well as more local concerns such as competition with a discount bookshop located near the Parkville campus.



Category: Local news