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Waterstone's sold for GBP 53m

20th May 2011

HMV has sold Waterstone's to the A&NN Group owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut as it looks to ease rising debts.

The GBP 53 million deal will see James Daunt, owner of Daunt Books, come in to run the bookstore chain, while current Waterstone's managing director Dominic Myers will take up a role within HMV.

Mr Mamut says his decision to purchase the chain was inspired by a desire to focus on 'renewed customer responsiveness' and said Mr Daunt's 'undiluted commitment' to books will help to achieve this.

Mr Daunt said the move is akin to 'restoring faith' in Waterstone's after a tough year - Nielsen BookScan figures reveal that TCM sales were down 2.3 per cent year on year in the 12 months to April 30th.

'The main observation I would make is that I am on the outside still and I don’t come in until July 2nd. I'm not the money guy, I am coming in to run Waterstone's,' he told the Bookseller.

Before completing the sale, HMV revealed that like-for-like sales at Waterstone's were down 8.4 per cent and total sales down 11.3 per cent for the 17 weeks to April 30th.

Matt Piner, Verdict senior retail analyst, said the purchase constituted a 'gamble' on Mr Mamut's part and said the main challenge will be ensuring the brand remains relevant in an expanding digital market. 

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