Once a regular fixture on the high street, growing competition from online retailers, supermarkets and the rise of e-books is taking its toll on booksellers – even on chains such as Waterstones.
Established in 1982 by Tim Waterstone, the bookseller expanded rapidly until being sold in 1993 to WH Smith. Then it changed hands several times until 2011, when HMV sold it to A&NN Capital Fund Management, owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut.
In 2012, it even took the surprising step of making a deal with Amazon to sell their Kindles – but not its e-books.
In January, it announced its pre-tax losses had fallen by more than a third, to £23m in the year to 27 April 2013 from £37.3m the previous year.
We analysed Waterstones after “Super Thursday” last week, when in-demand hardbacks hit the market.
Before the vital Christmas campaign begins, using the YouGov BrandIndex, we see great resilience and performance in Waterstones’ scores.
Our Index metric takes in to account a range of factors, including “value”, “recommend” and “quality”. Waterstones’ average score over the past three months is a strong 34.0. We can conclude from this that consumers are impressed with the overall service that Waterstones offers, believing it to be a quality and reputable organisation.
And, if we look at YouGov’s Consideration metric, we can ascertain if people are thinking about buying a product from the retailer in question. Once again, we see a solid score of 34.0.
With one in three thinking about buying a book or other products from Waterstones, it is understandable why the brand is remaining resilient in a tough climate for high street retailers.
As more and more high street stores are threatened by online retailers, it may be heart-warming for Waterstones to see their brand remain resolute.