Waterstone's total sales fell to £235.1m over its half-year to 25th October from £244.5m a year earlier, representing a like-for-like sales decline of 3.1% (1.4% decline after adjusting for the prior year release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). HMV said this reflected a very challenging book market, which contracted by over 5% in the period, impacted particularly by poor performance in the non-fiction category.
The book chain's operating loss rose to £9.3m, compared with £8.9m a year earlier, but this included a £1.5m year-on-year increase in costs from the 'BookHub' supply chain implementation. HMV said the the underlying improvement in the operating loss reflected a 60 basis point increase in gross margin (after adjusting for Harry Potter) and tight control of operating costs (which fell 1.2%), more than offsetting the sales decline.
The HMV Group, owners of Waterstones generated a seasonal operating loss of £22.8m in the period (2007 £21.5m).
THATS THE WONDER OF WATERSTONES!
update 12th January 2009 :
Some 200 jobs are to be axed at Waterstone's as a result of new measures to cut costs at the books chain. Staff at the 303-outlet books specialist will be told this morning about the redundancies, as a three-month consultation period gets under way.