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Waterstones profits down 85% on 39% sales dip

In the UK, Waterstones’ after-tax profit fell 85% as sales declined 39% in the 12 months to 24 April 2021, reports the Bookseller.

Waterstones accounts show the bookstore chain recorded sales of £230.9 million (A$406.5m), down from £376 million (A$662m) the previous year, while after-tax profit fell to £2.9 million (A$5.11m) from £19.7 million (A$34.7m).

The company’s results for 2020/21 came following ‘multiple lockdowns and disruptions’. All Waterstones branches were closed from March to mid-June in 2020, with most shops again closed over the key Christmas trading period due to another lockdown from November 2020 to April 2021.

Waterstones also repurposed its distribution centre as an online fulfilment centre during the period. Margins were lower ‘due to shipping costs and the additional costs associated with social distancing measures within the centre’. Despite that, the company stressed its online store ‘performed strongly’ and the retailer responded to ‘pandemic pressures with stringent discipline’.

‘When able to trade, our shops have performed consistently,’ a Waterstones spokesperson said. ‘Our online operation has also maintained robust sales growth following the shops’ reopening. Books, as well as other categories core to the business, such as educational toys, board games and puzzles, grew strongly in this period to the benefit Waterstones.’

For the year ending April 2022, Waterstones expects shop sales to still be below pre-Covid levels, with an improvement on the pre-pandemic period to follow in the next 12 months and continued online sales growth.


Category: International news