Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Waterstones profit down 8.4% in 2020

UK bookselling chain Waterstones’ after-tax profit fell 8.4% to £20.8 million (A$38m) in the year to 25 April 2020, reports the Bookseller.

Revenue was down 4.3% on 2019 to £376 million (A$687.3m), although the chain recorded an operating profit of £32.6 million (A$59.6m), which was up 9.3% on the previous year’s results. Despite the results, the company said it is entering the 2021/22 financial year ‘well placed for a return to growth in both sales and profits’ after the ‘significant adverse impact’ of the pandemic.

Managing director James Daunt told the Bookseller ‘it was a good year and then it began to go a little bit wrong’ towards the end of January 2020. ‘Initially it took a while to sort of get to grips with it, you’ve got all the PPE costs, and putting yourself effectively into sort of hibernation,’ said Daunt. ‘I think we sort of did that, we certainly acted very quickly and that stood us in pretty good stead to take us through the year that then followed which has obviously been pretty frustrating.’

Daunt said, however, that lockdown ‘favoured all the ways in which people mentally occupy themselves, in which books are obviously the primary one’, adding that Waterstones ‘literally sold every single puzzle that we could get hold of’.

‘I think, frankly, if in March 2020 we’d have said in June 2021 this is what it’s going to look like we’d have taken that every single time,’ Daunt said. ‘The reality is that there’s a retail spending boom going on. People are not spending it on hospitality, they’re not spending it on foreign travel, there’s money in people’s pockets and they’re spending it in shops and online. It is a really good time for booksellers and for publishers, we just have to hope through decent policies and the vaccination program we’re able to stay open.’

The annual results are the first published under the ownership of private equity firm Elliott Advisors. The results were filed later than usual due to rule changes to allow for the impact of Covid-19.


Category: International news