James Daunt talked to the Guardian yesterday. Sales of Kindles have been disappointing and the storms on December 23rd contributed to sales falling “a smudge” on last year. But, as he normally does in interviews, he pointed to an encouraging growth (40%) in the reserve and collect service. [With Amazon’s recent announcement that it will be charging delivery on physical books for orders less than £10, this service is likely to increase in popularity.]
Daunt said Waterstones had been helped in some ways in 2013 by the lack of a book series popular with the masses such as Fifty Shades of Grey or the Harry Potter books, which were easier for supermarkets to promote.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson’s autobiography was Waterstone’s biggest seller this Christmas, for example, but it was followed closely by Stoner – a book by John Williams first published in 1965 which became a surprise hit last year, selling 20,000 hardback copies in the store.
Another success for Waterstones was its reserve and collect service which saw a 40% rise in sales. Daunt said he hoped to boost sales via this route further with an update to the retailer’s website and mobile app later this year.
But Daunt admitted that the company still had at least a year of heavy investment in stores, logistics and IT ahead of it before it could head back to profitability. “We are fixing pretty much everything,” he said.