Waterstones boss says retailer “frankly not profitable enough” to raise wages

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Waterstones pay wage
// Waterstones managing director James Daunt retailer was “frankly not profitable enough” to increase wages
// Comes in response to an online petition that went viral on social media on Monday
// Staff are demanding they are paid the Living Wage rate
// Waterstones has booked three consecutive years of profits

Waterstones managing director James Daunt has said the retailer was “frankly not profitable enough” to increase wages, after staff launched a campaign to be paid the Real Living Wage.

Speaking to Press Association, Daunt said that while he personally thought the work of The Living Wage Foundation “entirely laudable” and that he would like to raise hourly pay for staff, he had to balance this against the company’s financial stability.

However, he said pay would continue to be reviewed as Waterstone’s performance improved.

He added that some Waterstons staff are paid higher than the living wage to reflect experience and long service.

“The people we are particularly interested in are people choosing bookselling as a career,” he told Press Assocation.

His comments were made in response to a petition on workplace campaign platform Organise, which calls for all Waterstones booksellers to be paid a minimum of £9 per hour, or £10.55 in the Greater London area.

The petition launched a month ago, but grabbed headlines on Monday after it suddenly went viral on social media.

A group of published authors, led by writer Kerry Hudson, have also lent their support to the campaign and are to write an open letter to the books retailer.

“James Daunt has stressed on more than one occasion that the survival and success of brick and mortar bookstores relies on the skill of booksellers,” the campaign reads.

“The current rate of pay for Waterstones booksellers across the UK is below the rate determined by the Living Wage Foundation, and does not reflect the energy, erudition and skill a bookseller brings to the role.”

In the retailer’s most recently filed accounts, pre-tax profits were broadly flat at £19.98 million for the 52 weeks ending April 28, 2018.

It marks a third successive year of profits for the business.

Daunt joined Waterstones in 2011 and initiated a turnaround plan which involved making 200 store managers redundant in 2013.

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