Blackwell’s puts itself on the sale shelf after 143 years of family ownership
One of the UK’s oldest booksellers Blackwell’s is looking to sell up after its 143-year history as it scraps plans to hand ownership of the business to its employees.
As first reported by Mark Kleinman, the academic bookshop which has been owned by its founding family since its first store opened in Oxford in 1879, has appointed corporate financiers to oversee a sale process.
City insiders suggest that its sale could come within months, and David Prescott, Blackwell’s chief executive, told Sky News in response to its report that the sale of Blackwell’s “represents a genuinely unique and exciting opportunity for any potential buyer to own a much loved and trusted bookselling brand.”
“The business has been quietly and successfully transitioning itself in recent years to establish a substantial global online presence alongside a core portfolio of iconic shops.”
“We hope that a new owner and investment will help us to secure a long term future for Blackwell’s and its booksellers for many years to come.”
“As we look to start a new chapter for the company, I’d like to publicly thank Toby [Blackwell, the controlling shareholder] for his support and commitment over many, many years. Without him, Blackwell’s simply wouldn’t be here today”, he added.
Synonymous with many university campuses, Blackwell’s currently has 18 stores, and it is understood that the firm considered a refinancing process last year that would have seen it converted into a structure owned by its roughly 350 staff.
However, this process did not come into fruition.
Toby Blackwell, president of the company, said he “would have loved to have handed over the company to its staff, but I also accept that in order to grow and remain competitive in the future, it is time for new ownership, ideas and investment”.
It has not been disclosed who the potential buyer may be.