Waterstones boss admits they “messed up” in Edinburgh unbranded store controversy

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Waterstones Edinburgh

Waterstones has done a u-turn on plans to open an unbranded bookshop in an area of Edinburgh where there is an existing independent book retailers.

The news comes after plans emerged that Waterstones was poised to open an unbranded store in the district of Stockbridge in spring, despite the area already being home to an independent book store for four years.

The independent retailer, Golden Hare Books, earlier this week accused Waterstones of breaking its pledge to not open its unbranded fascias in areas where it would competition with existing independent retailers.

The news attracted outcry from the local community and criticism from leading figures such as Scottish author Val McDermid.

Speaking to The Guardian, Waterstones managing director James Daunt has now admitted they “messed up” in Stockbridge and as a result the new store will be one of the usual Waterstones-branded outlets.

“In our insular way we forgot about them,” Daunt told The Guardian.

“Literally, I forgot entirely that they existed, which is one of the perils of a big chain… the left hand sometimes doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

“We will also need to work with them to ensure that we do not do anything predatory or anything that imperils them at all.”

Although Golden Hare Books managing director Julie Danskin welcomed Daunt’s u-turn, she requested that Waterstones “really dial down” its discount offers as it impacted their sales performance.

Watersones’ rollout of unbranded stores began in 2014, with the aim of creating the distinct, quirky feel of an independent and community bookstore in areas that do not have one.

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