Independent bookseller Foyles saw sales rise by 2.2% to £23.4m last year but the company, founded in 1903, recorded an operating loss of £600,000 for the year due to significant write-offs in respect of the anticipated closure in the following year of Westfield White City (£400,000) and the move of its flagship store which was marked by a grand opening in June 2014.
The family owned bookshop chain said that trading continued to be robust and ahead of the previous year at Foyles branches in Westfild Stratford City, Royal Festival Hall and Bristol. Website and commercial accounts business also continue to thrive. In February 2014, Foyles opened a new branch at London Waterloo Station where sales in the first four months greatly exceeded expectations.
This was followed in June by the move of the famous flagship bookshop, two doors down into the former home of Central Saint Martins at 107 Charing Cross Road. The new store, with a full height central atrium, 37,000 sq ft of flexible retail space, a café, gallery and auditorium, was custom designed as a ‘bookshop for the 21st century’ by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.
The accounts for 2013-14 also include write-offs for two London branches. Foyles Saint Pancras International closed in July 2014 after several months of negotiation on the extension of the lease with landlords HS1 Ltd. Foyles at Westfield London closed last month to allow for renovation of the destination shopping centre. Foyles has since announced that it will be opening a new branch in Birmingham’s Grand Central complex come September 2015.
Sam Husain, CEO of Foyles comments:
“2013-14 was a period of change and consolidation for Foyles, crowned by the move into a new custom-designed flagship bookshop on London’s Charing Cross Road. We have taken the opportunity to consolidate our extraordinary expenses as we prepare for further expansion in 2015. Although we have not seen profit in this period, we are now in a very strong position in terms of cash flow. The board would like to record its appreciation of the outstanding service, dedication and commitment of the staff.”
Retail innovations for the company included the launch of Foyles Book Search, the UK’s first bricks and mortar book search for mobile, designed with Oxford and popular creative promotions such as Literary Blind dates – novels wrapped in brown paper with just a brief description of the main character to identify them.
Husain will cease to be CEO when Paul Currie joins today, Monday 16 February, but will continue until 30 April to facilitate a smooth handover. Thereafter, he will remain with Foyles as a Non-executive Director.