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Waterstones accused of breaking pledge to not compete with indie bookshops

British bookshop chain Waterstones has announced it plans to expand in Edinburgh, causing local independent booksellers to accuse the chain retailer of backtracking on previous statements about not competing with independent bookshops through its unbranded stores, reports the Guardian.

Waterstones announced on Monday it will open a new Edinburgh store, called Stockbridge Books, in the UK spring of 2019, situated in a new development in the mostly affluent suburb of Stockbridge. But the owners of Golden Hare Books—an indie bookstore also based in Stockbridge—have hit out at Waterstones’ expansion of unbranded stores in areas where indie bookstores already exist, pointing to comments made last year by Waterstones CEO James Daunt, who said of the new stores: ‘They are very small shops in towns that had independents and very much wish they still had independents but don’t.’

Golden Hare Books manager Julie Danskin said other independent book retailers had communicated their disappointment that Waterstones would be opening a new store in the area.

‘We can see why they are opening here because it’s a vibrant community, and the fact is that it is more about the name than the shop opening,’ said Danskin. ‘It’s about the fact that this will be masquerading as an independent bookshop. James Daunt talks a lot about an even playing field and working with independent brands, but this is essentially backtracking on his previous statements.’

Waterstones began opening stores under different names in different parts of the UK in 2014, beginning with the inaugural store, Southwold Books. It now has several other unbranded stores, including ones in Rye and Harpenden.

Daunt said the retailer had ‘long wished’ to have a presence in Stockbridge, alongside its flagship store in Edinburgh’s city centre. ‘It will be a tad smaller than our Princes Street flagship and, like every good bookshop, will draw its personality from its community and neighbouring shops,’ said Daunt. ‘In consequence, we will be calling it Stockbridge Books and look forward greatly to its opening.’

 

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