Waterstones increases staff wage by 6.2%

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Waterstones bookseller national living wage Kate Skipper
// Waterstones to increase bookseller wage from £8.21 to £8.72
// Waterstones posted a 39% rise in pretax profits for its full year
// The rise comes after a 4.85 per cent rise in April 2019

Waterstones has reportedly said it will increase its colleagues’ pay by 6.2 per cent from April 1.

The rise accompanies the government’s national living wage increase due in April, which will result in the wages of those over the age of 25 increasing by 6.2 per cent from £8.21 to £8.72, The Bookseller reported.

The news comes after Waterstones managing director James Daunt said the retailer was “frankly not profitable enough” to increase wages, after staff launched a campaign to be paid the Real Living Wage in March last year.


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Daunt said at the time 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

He also noted that some Waterstones staff were being paid higher than the living wage to reflect experience and long service.

In its most recent accounts, Waterstones posted a 39 per cent rise in pretax profits for its full year after being sold to US hedge fund Elliott Advisors in April 2018.

Accounts filed at Companies House on Wednesday saw pretax profits reaching £27.7 million for the full year to April 27 2019, up per cent from the £19.9 million achieved year before.

Sales rose less than two per cent from £385.7 million to £392.77 million, a figure Waterstones noted could have been higher if there had been more bestselling titles during the full year.

The bookseller opened four new shops during the year, with a further Cafe W also added to the estate in the full year to April 2019.

Five shops were closed, bringing Waterstones store total to 227 for the period under review.

“As we approach the end of our financial year, it seems a good opportunity to pause to reflect and to say thank you,” Waterstones chief operating officer Kate Skipper wrote in a letter to staff.

“In a year of economic and political turmoil, accompanied by a barrage of catastrophic retail headlines, it is worth taking a moment to celebrate that our like-for-like sales continue to grow and our bookshops continue to improve. To fight against the retail tide so successfully is only achieved with effort and bookselling talent.”

However, Skipper noted that the increase may not apply to any employee paid above the national living wage “who is subject to disciplinary or performance sanction”.

“Once again, we have chosen to reward all bookselling bands rather than simply to raise the minimum, so that our most experienced booksellers benefit as much as a new starter.

“Salaries for bookshop managers and support roles will be reviewed in the autumn, following the same performance review cycle as this year.

“To take another step forward towards our goal to deliver rewarding bookselling careers is pleasing, particularly in such a hostile economic environment and we do so with thanks to you all,” Skipper said.

The rise comes after a 4.85 per cent rise in April 2019, with an additional four per cent bonus paid out in the same year.

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