Thursday, July 06, 2006

Weak Waterstones?

Waterstone’s like-for-like sales fell 6.1% for the nine weeks to 1st July 2006, as “trading conditions in the first few weeks of the new financial year have remained difficult,” parent company HMV said today. The decline follows a 5.8% like-for-like decrease in the year to 29th April 2006, which the company described as a “very poor trading performance”. The chain’s total sales fell by 4.8% to £418.7m in the year. Waterstone’s has initiated a £10m integration programme for Ottakar’s, closing its offices in Salisbury, Clapham and London Bridge with 114 people at risk of redundancy. Ottakar's 142 stores will be rebranded as Waterstone's by Christmas, with no store closures immediately planned. Can 142 'new stores' stimulate an increase in sales? We tend to think not, as the stores involved will loose their unique identity overnight, causing loyal customers to 'jump ship'. Perhaps their salvation will be the launch later this year of a proper Waterstones website, then again perhaps not - think they have well and truly missed the boat on that one!
Waterstone's main high street competitor BORDERS has just announced that their losses in the second-quarter, ending 29th July '06, will be greater than expected.
Just WHO IS going to be the weakest link...the race is on.