Four years since Waterstones was set to collapse, the bookshop chain has been restored on the back of physical book sales and another multi-million pound investment from its Russian owner.
The retailer, which was sold by HMV to Russian businessman Alexander Mamut in 2011, has ploughed an additional £8.3m into improving its shop environment and infrastructure. This is on top of the £50m Mamut’s Cyprus-based Lynwood Investments firms has injected over the past two years.
Under the new ownership, this is the first rise in sales for Britain’s largest bookseller.
On the back of the investment, and an improved range of books, sales increased 1% to £392.4m in the year ending April 27, 2015. By comparison, sales fell 6% the previous year to £390m.
Waterstones is also attracting customers with its W Café, which is now in 28 shops, and is helping to encourage readers to browse and buy.
The bookseller also posted an improvement in operating income, recording £5.4m profits compared to £3.8m in losses a year ago.
Six shops were closed and four new shops were opened during the year, taking Waterstones’ estate to 274 stores.
According to the Publishers Association trade body, sales of physical books rose by 3% in the first half of 2015, the first lift in three years, while sales of digital books fell by 2%.