Johnson out at Waterstone's, Myers in
Waterstone's managing director Gerry Johnson has abruptly left the business today (14th January), and has been replaced by former Blackwells m.d. Dominic Myers.Johnson appears to have paid the price for a poor Christmas, with sales down 9% in the 10 weeks to 2nd January, a result which parent HMV Group chief executive Simon Fox described as "unsatisfactory".
In the five weeks to 2nd January Waterstone's total sales fell 8.6%, reflecting a like-for-like sales decline of 8.5%. One bright spot was that HMV reported that 80,000 e-books had been downloaded from waterstones.com over Christmas. Fox maintained that Waterstone's remained "an excellent business and brand, with a great opportunity as the only remaining specialist bookseller on the high street".
Myers has been HMV Group development director since 2007, joining the company one year prior to this to lead the integration of Ottakar's into Waterstone's. Fox said: "I am delighted that Dominic is taking up the role of leading Waterstone's. He has played an important role in the strategy to transform the group over the last three years, and I am confident that his deep knowledge of our businesses and the book industry will be crucial to improving the performance of Waterstone's."
On Johnson, he added: "I would like to thank Gerry for his contribution to the business over the last four-and-half years."
The Guardian reports that Johnson will receive his contractual entitlement to a year's salary, which was £312,000 in the last financial year. This is paid in quarterly installments which would end if Johnson found a new job within the year.
Fox told the Guardian that delays in setting up a distribution hub took focus away from what customers wanted in the chain's high street stores. He said priorities now would be improving the customer proposition, tailoring stores to their local market, managing promotions more effectively, accelerating online and digital book growth and getting further cost synergies from Waterstone's position as part of a larger group.