Wednesday, May 10, 2006

HMV and Waterstone's

Reuters reports a trading statement from the UK's HMV Group, which includes leading bookseller Waterstone's (link from Clive Keeble).

In January, the Group commented on the difficult sales trends in the UK, in the current financial year, and these trends have apparently persisted during the balance of the year. In HMV UK & Ireland, like-for-like sales in the final 16 weeks were down 11.4%, with Waterstone's down 5.6%.

Clive Keeble seems to find these figures encouraging, in that Waterstone's appear to have arrested their decline in sales. So, if I understand the situation correctly, business is not exactly booming, but things are not going down the tube at quite the rate they used to was. Makes you glad you aren't a bookseller, doesn't it?

The one really striking piece of news in the Reuter report, to my eyes at least, is the statement that Waterstone's is terminating its partnership with Amazon, and in the autumn of 2006 will launch its own online service -- a service which will 'reflect better the brand's specialist bookselling credentials.'

I find that very surprising. Are Waterstone's really going to build their own online service from the ground up? (A process which I would take to be enormously demanding in terms of capital and time.) Or are they going to link up with some other online presence? We shall see.


Anonymous said...


Your readers who are interested in the changes to Waterstone's on line presence might enjoy this FT article

In recent years Waterstone's made two serious errors ; one was to close their book search department, the other was to partner technologically with Amazon for its own line sales.

There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that customers are returning to the terrestial bookshops ; hopefully the slight improvement in *all* our sales will continue during the summer months.

Anonymous said...

Another report, this time giving slightly more information on Waterstone's upcoming website

Also noticed in today's Scotsman

last paragraph,one of those sentences which will be read again and again

>>Meanwhile, in an attempt to better compete with supermarkets like Tesco and online rivals such as Amazon, HMV also announced a trial, running in six stores, where it has reduced prices with the help of suppliers.<<

Anonymous said...

If Amazon have been screwing Waterstone's to the same extent they screw small publishers then it's not surprising.