Thursday, April 21, 2011

Johnson says Waterstone should give up on buying back chain

The Bookseller - 20.04.11 - Graeme Neill

Former Borders UK owner Luke Johnson has warned Tim Waterstone off trying to buy back Waterstone's. Waterstone is believed to be the sole frontrunner for the bookseller and has teamed up with Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut to fund a bid.
But in his "The Entrepreneur" column for the Financial Times, Johnson writes that "Tim Waterstone should give up trying to buy back his bookshop chain". He adds: "Possibly the root of the problem is that [Waterstone] exaggerates the chain's importance, once saying: 'Waterstone's does more for the day to day cultural life of the nation than perhaps anything or anyone else.'"
He continued: "No doubt I suffered from a similar delusion in taking over Borders bookshops. But such thoughts were never true, and are even less so now in the age of e-books and Amazon."
Johnson's ownership of Borders, through his investment firm Risk Capital Partners, lasted just under two years. He sold it to former Borders managing director Philip Downer, who led a management buyout in July 2009. Within six months, the business had gone into administration.
Johnson admits that he did try to buy back PizzaExpress, the pizza chain he once ran, but argued that that "would have been a sound financial deal . . ."

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