Waterstones make “good money” as it prepares to open 5 stores in next 4 weeks

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Waterstones

Waterstones is set to open five new stores over the next month as it touts its insulation “from the wider retail economy” amid its search for a buyer.

Managing director James Daunt said there were plans to open 15 more new shops next year, seeking to boost interest in the retailer which is now officially up for sale.

Last year the bookstore chain returned to profit for the first time since 2011, when it was bought by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut from HMV for £53 million.

Although results for the 12 months to April are yet to be filed, they are understood to have seen the retailer make around £40 million in gross earnings.

This follows a stark turnaround in fortunes during the year to April 2016, which saw pre-tax profits jump from losses of £4.5 million to profits of £9.8 million.

Sales during the year also rose 4.3 per cent to £409 million.

Last month Mamut revealed he was considering a £250 million sale of the company, and it is now reportedly on the market.

“It’s certainly the right moment for him to sell us, (if you follow) the logic of turning a business round and making it profitable, demonstrating that that’s sustainable, then selling it,” Daunt said.

“We are a nice business. We make good money. We’re relatively insulated from the wider retail economy because book buyers tend to continue to buy books even if they stop buying washing machines.

“If you’re interested in retail assets in the UK, we’re a pretty attractive one, and obviously we’re growing. We’ve got a very strong position within the market. It makes good sense that somebody should buy us.”

The dramatic turnaround is thanks to the recent rise in independent presses which has led to a boom in book sales.

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