Waterstones Acquires Foyles
Waterstones has acquired the Foyles bookshops from the Foyle family for an undisclosed price. In addition to the Charing Cross Road flagship, Foyles has three shops in London--Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo and Westfield Stratford--and shops in Bristol, Birmingham and Chelmsford. The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
"We are honored to be entrusted with the Foyles business, and greatly look forward to joining forces with the Foyles bookselling team," said Waterstones managing director James Daunt. "Together, we will be stronger and better positioned to protect and champion the pleasures of real bookshops in the face of Amazon's siren call. It is an exciting and invigorating time in bookselling as good bookshops are rediscovering their purpose in the fight back against online and e-reading. At Waterstones, we see our future as responsible stewards of shops that strive to serve their customers each according to their own distinct personality. This is nowhere more important than with those shops--Hatchards, Hodges Figgis and now Foyles--that have such singular heritages.
Daunt added that the Foyles booksellers "join a company that celebrates the traditional virtues of Foyles bookselling as equally as it does the illustrious history of Foyles itself. We take on this responsibility with pride and confidence and are committed to ensuring Foyles a future as bright as its past."
Christopher Foyle commented: "My family and I are delighted that Foyles is entering a new chapter, one which secures the brand's future and protects its personality. I look forward to witnessing the exciting times ahead for the company founded by my grandfather and his brother 115 years ago."
Speaking as "a fellow London bookseller" and owner of rival indie Daunt Books, Daunt told the Bookseller he is "excited and respectful of the history" of Foyles, but the opportunity to take advantage of Waterstones' buying power and centralized services would enable the bookseller to shore up its future. Daunt said he had been approached by Foyles to acquire the company, and would not seek to appoint a new managing director, but allow individual stores to manage themselves.
The Bookseller reported that Foyles CEO Paul Currie and finance director John Browne will leave the business once the sale is completed.
This marks the second sale of a major U.K. bookseller in five months. In April, a majority interest in Waterstones itself was bought by hedge fund Elliott Advisors, the U.K. arm of Elliott Management Corp., the U.S. investment management firm headed by Paul Singer. Waterstones has some 275 stores in the U.K., Ireland, and continental Europe.