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Virgin Megastore France prepares to declare itself insolvent Friday, 4th January 2013
Photo credit: Virgin Megastore France
Virgin Megastore’s French operation will next week declare itself insolvent as it becomes the latest casualty in a string of high street entertainment retailers that have fallen prey to the rise of online sales and downloads.
Virgin France’s books and music division employs around 1,000 people with 26 stores across the country. The company will next week unveil a plan to file for payments suspension at a meeting on 7 January, the first step towards a court-ordered company restructuring in France.
The chain, which was sold by Richard Branson to Lagardere in 2001 and later to Butler Capital Partners in 2007, is thought to have an estimate debt of EUR 22 million, according to a report by Reuters.
There was speculation that HMV could face a similar fate earlier this week after it emerged lenders had blocked a potential bid from US investment company Apollo Global Management, with hopes the retailer could survive without a takeover.
In recent years increased pricing competition online and a rise in illegal downloads has left music, books and entertainment retailers struggling to stay afloat on the high street. Both Borders and Virgin Media’s UK arm of high street Megastores, Zavvi Entertainment Group failed to keep up with online giants such as Amazon.
British publisher Pearson to buy $89.5m stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook Friday, 28th December 2012
Photo credit: Nook Media
Pearson Plc has announced it will buy a 5 per cent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook Media for USD 89.5 million.
The retailer’s Nook Media unit includes its digital e-reader business, along with 674 college bookstores across America.
Pearson, which also owns both Penguin Group and Financial Times Group, added that subject to certain conditions, it will also have the option to buy another 5 per cent stake in Nook Media in the future.
"Pearson and Barnes & Noble have been valued partners for decades, and in recent years both have invested heavily and imaginatively to provide engaging and effective digital reading and learning experiences," said Will Ethridge, chief executive of Pearson North America.
"This new agreement extends our partnership and deepens our commitment to provide better, easier experiences for our customers."
Barnes & Noble sells its Nook devices online in the UK and in stores in the US. The bookstore group on Friday said its Nook division would not meet prior expectations for its current year, after it was forced to increase spending on its e-readers and tablets to keep up with larger rivals Amazon and Apple Inc.
Tough trading for Foyles "exacerbated" by Tottenham Court Road tube works Friday, 14th December 2012
Photo credit: Foyles
Foyles has revealed a 25 per cent drop in annual profit as London Underground's Tottenham Court Road tube station redevelopment continues to obscure access to the retailer’s flagship Charing Cross store.
The independent bookshop chain on Friday reported pre-tax profits of £152,552 for the year to 30 June, a 25.5 per cent drop from the year before, with turnover rising nearly 3 per cent to £23,492,891.
Foyles’ flagship store on Charing Cross Road continued to be disrupted by redevelopment works on the Tottenham Court Underground station, with footfall and sales both suffering from reduced access to the site.
However, the retailer pointed out it had managed to partially offset the losses with above-budget trading at its new Westfield Stratford City store.
"The retail environment continues to be challenging, a situation exacerbated by the disruption caused by the Tottenham Court Road Underground Station development which, as in previous years, has cost us dearly in lost sales.” Sam Husain, Chief Executive of Foyles, said, adding:
"Our focus is now turning to the development of our new flagship store at 107-109 Charing Cross Road, the former St Martin's College building, less than a hundred metres down from the existing store on Charing Cross Road. Progress on the development is on schedule for an opening in spring 2014."
With regards to peak Christmas trading , Husain said: "It's too early to comment on Christmas trading this year but we are hopeful that the last few days leading up to Christmas will be as busy as in the previous year."
Argos, Foyles and Blackwell’s jump on the Barnes & Noble bandwagon Thursday, 30th August 2012
Photo credit: Barnes & Noble
Just two days after one of the world’s largest booksellers announced it would team up with John Lewis to launch its Nook e-readers in the UK, Barnes & Noble has revealed Argos, Foyles and Blackwell’s will also be joining the ranks.
With Nook products expected to hit shelves in early October, Barnes & Noble’s partnership with three more retailers will see it appealing to Argos’ mass-market outreach, Blackwell’s university-based campus locations and Foyles’ traditionally independent offering.
The move is the first time US retailer Barnes & Noble has expanded its business internationally, as it looks to rival Amazon’s hold on the eBook market with its Kindle technology.
Fifty Shades of Grey becomes UK’s best-selling book of all time Wednesday, 8th August 2012
Forget Chaucer, Shakespeare or even Rowling. Despite churning out a wealth of world-renowned writers, none can come close to success of EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which this week became the best-selling book of all time in the UK with 5.3 million copies sold.
Panned by critics, EL James’s publisher Random House has revealed the book is now more popular than The Highway Code, with 3.8 million physical books sold and 1.5 million ebooks.
What’s more, the follow-up books Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed have also sold 3.6 million and 3.2 million copies respectively, taking the total sales for the trilogy to over 12 million.
Thankfully global sales are still a long way off surpassing JK Rowling’s monumental sales of 450 million copies for the Harry Potter series. Here’s hoping the rest of the world sees sense in time.
Amazon UK: eBooks now outsell print Monday, 6th August 2012
Photo credit: Amazon.com Inc
After launching its downloadable books service in August 2010, Amazon.co.uk now sells 114 Kindle titles for every 100 print books.
In a statement to press, the internet retail giant said the figures include both hardback and paperback but not Kindle titles that are available for free.
"Customers in the UK are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books, even as our print business continues to grow. We hit this milestone in the United States less than four years after introducing Kindle, so to reach this landmark after just two years in the UK is remarkable and shows how quickly UK readers are embracing Kindle," said Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president of Kindle EU.
"As a result of the success of Kindle, we're selling more books than ever before on behalf of authors and publishers. And thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing, thousands of self-published authors have also been given an outlet to share their work with the millions of Kindle readers worldwide."
As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon is thought to be launching its own publishing operation in Britain as it looks to expand its reach across the publishing sector.
Harry Potter sales overtaken by Fifty Shades trilogy Wednesday, 1st August 2012
One of the most talked-about authors of the year, EL James has now beaten JK Rowling to become Amazon.co.uk’s bestselling author of all time.
Having hit the headlines earlier this year as a hit with Kindle readers, Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in James’s series, is now outselling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last novel in the Hogwarts series, by more than two to one.
EU director of Kindle Gordon Willoughby said: "If JK Rowling was the literary phenomenon of the last decade, then EL James looks certain to take that mantle in the current decade.
"In just four months, EL James has become Amazon.co.uk's biggest-selling author of all time, which is truly remarkable when you consider that we've been selling books for almost 14 years."
James has sold more than four million copies of her books in print and on Kindle since they went on sale in March.
Amazon drops over 4,000 e-books after it is refused ‘unreasonable’ publishing deal Thursday, 23rd February 2012
And the row goes on: just weeks after Amazon hit headlines for persuading customers to ‘cash and tell’ on independent booksellers, the etailer is in hot water again, this time over its tactics to try and force a publisher to slash prices.
With the Kindle contract for one of the country’s largest book distributors, the Independent Publishers Group, up for renewal, Amazon decided to gain some much needed margin back from its cut-price e-books.
“They decided they wanted me to change my terms,” said Mark Suchomel, president of the Chicago-based IPG speaking to the New York Times, “It wasn’t reasonable. There’s only so far we can go.”
With each side standing their ground, Amazon decided to drop all of IPG’s books for Kindle, resulting in over 4,000 disappearing from the website. Physical books were not affected, but the dispute quickly reignited fears in many corners of the publishing industry over the power Amazon wields over publishers as the shift to e-books continues.
Waterstones puts a stop to unpaid work after investigation Friday, 3rd February 2012
High street book store Waterstones has decided to stop using unpaid jobseekers following an investigation by the Guardian newspaper.
The retailer has pulled out of the government scheme to employ unpaid jobseekers at its stores, even after the government rejected claims the scheme was contrary to the Human Rights Act.
Waterstones said that after the Guardian highlighted the practice at one of its store, it initiated a review of the scheme and no longer wanted to encourage work without pay.
WH Smith looks on the bright side despite fall in sales Wednesday, 25th January 2012
WH Smith on Wednesday reiterated it would increase profits in spite of sales continuing to shrink at the stationery, newsagent and bookselling chain.
The FTSE 250 retailer today reported a 5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales over the 21 weeks to 21 January.
Like for like sales at the group’s high street division fell 6 per cent due to a slow performance by entertainment sales.
At the group’s travel division, like-for-like sales were down by 3 per cent, but up by 2 per cent overall due to a increase in store numbers.
International expansion into countries including India and Australia has helped stem the decline in sales, while turnover-based rental agreements with landlords has also enabled the group to offset the risk of falling passenger numbers.
Chief executive Kate Swann said the group was facing “challenging trading conditions” but confirmed that WH Smith’s strategy of keeping a lid on costs would leave margins steady.
“We expect the trading environment to be challenging, however we have planned accordingly,” she said.
“Over the past six years both businesses have consistently increased profits and the group is now well balanced between travel and high street [divisions],” she said.
“The months of November and December now represent less than half of annual group profit compared with more than 90 per cent of group profit six years ago.”
WH Smith shares rose by 1.9 per cent, or 10p to 542p in early London trading.