The late Foyle brothers would be proud. The eponymous bookshop they founded over a century ago – initially selling their old textbooks – has returned to profitability after a turbulent few years that saw the company move to a new flagship store on Charing Cross Road.
Foyles, which has six book stores in Birmingham, Bristol and London, said gross profits grew by 0.6 per cent to £6.9m in 2015 compared with 2014, when it made a gross profit of £6.52m, but an operating loss of £0.6m due to significant exceptional write-offs.
In June 2014, Foyles moved a few doors down from its original bookship on Charing Cross Road to a new flagship fitted with four miles bookshelves – the equivalent of lining one bank of the Thames with books from Battersea Power Station to the Tower of London.
Authors including Hilary Mantel, Michael Palin and Jarvis Cocker came to launch the store and draw in the crowds, with sales at the flagship up by 10 per cent year-on-year.
Group turnover for the year grew by 4.3 per cent to £24.4m compared with £23.4m in 2014, boosted in part by a strong Christmas when Ladybird's series of spoof guides for adults on themes ranging from hipsters to hangovers made up the top ten bestsellers.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) rose to £397,053 from £356,433 the previous year.
Chief executive Paul Currie, said: “We have returned the business from being at a loss in a year of great change to a position of profit and stability. This has been achieved through careful cost control and smart operating processes, with thanks to our customers for their continued loyalty"
"Whilst this is an improvement on 2013/14, we are still challenged by low margins in a retail sector that has heavy costs of operations and low sales density. We continue to explore ways of ensuring the sustainability of the business, through initiatives such as the successful development of our digital delivery systems," he added.
Currie, who took over at CEO from Sam Husain in February last year, said the group has also overhauled its so-called Foyalty (loyalty) scheme and introduced new exclusive benefits to retain customers.