March 30, 2016
Foyles bookstore returns to profit
by Simon Reichley
The UK is now two-for-two on resuscitating its flagship bookselling franchises. Last year, James Daunt of Daunt Books led Waterstones back to the black (well, with a little help from a oil-rich friend). Now, Zoe Wood reports for the Guardian that Foyles, a London bookselling institution for over a hundred years, has returned to profitability under the guidance of new CEO Paul Currie. This comes after a year of fiscal turmoil brought on by the opening of a new flagship store in Charing Cross and a wave of reorganization, which saw the closing of a number of satellite stores and unusually high operating costs.
By all accounts the new store is thriving, posting a 10% increase in sales since its renovation, and outpacing more established branches around the country. This increased trade, combined with tighter cost controls and a continued focus on fiscal responsibility, which is the core of Currie’s new regime, have put the company on solid ground, and Currie is now looking to build on this momentum. According to financial director John Browne, “Foyles is well placed to expand further and will continue to explore opportunities to open new branches.”
But everything isn’t rosy in the UK. Operating costs, including wages, pension contribution, and business rates continue to rise, and predictions about the overall health of the retail sector look pretty grim. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see signs of life in the book trade, and it’s good to know that capable folks like Currie and Daunt are committed to the survival of the retail bookshop.
Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.