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Waterstones boss heads Stateside

Barnes & Noble completed deal finalises James Daunt’s move to New York

THE owners of the UK’s largest book retailers Waterstones Elliott Advisors have completed their acquisition of Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailers in the US.

And James Daunt, who will act as CEO of both companies although they will be run separately, is now relocating from London to New York as he seeks to apply the business model that saw him successfully turn round Waterstones.
Elliott bought Waterstones last June for an undisclosed sum but original figures mooted were around £250million, taking control from Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut who installed James in 2011 when he took over from previous owners HMV.
In 2016 Waterstones made their first pre-tax profit since 2011 at £9.8m, and their 2017 figures showed an 82 per cent jump to £18m on sales of £400m, with cards, stationery, toys and gifts now accounting for more than 10 per cent of sales. I. the year to April 28, 2018, pre-tax profits were broadly flat at £19.98m.
Waterstones have more than 275 stores, with new ones due to open in London this month and Glasgow later in the year while Barnes & Noble have 627 stores across all 50 US states and reported sales of £3.015billion ($3.662bn) for the 2018 financial year.
James said: “This is a very good day for bookselling. Barnes & Noble are the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling.
“With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright. I look forward very much to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble, being already indebted to Len Riggio for his wisdom and grateful for the welcome and professionalism of the executive team during the acquisition process.”
Paul Best, portfolio manager and head of European private equity at Elliott, added: “Our investment in Barnes & Noble, following our acquisition of Waterstones just over a year ago, demonstrates our commitment to bookselling and to real bookstores.
“Barnes & Noble have an extraordinary heritage, one that we want to protect and grow. We look forward to working with James Daunt and the Barnes & Noble management team in this exciting endeavour.”

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