Saturday, September 22, 2007


BORDERS HELD WHAT must surely be its last conference under the present ownership this week and the mood was positive and upbeat, even without an announcement that the offer from Luke Johnson's Risk Capital Partners had been accepted by Borders US. The bid was widely expected to go through imminently, with CEO, David Roche, telling guests at the Hotel Russell in Bloomsbury on Monday night: “I am extremely confident that we will have something exciting to announce later in the week.”

As if to underline this confidence, the Project Ocean team that has worked on Borders UK Vendor Due Diligence for prospective purchasers, was named Team of the Year at the company's internal awards. Other awards went to Nicky Boardman (Superstore General Manager (GM) of the Year, Norwich); Amanda Temlett (Store GM of the Year, Victoria Street, Victoria); Derrick Reilly, Property (Outstanding Contribution Award); Blanchardstown, Dublin (Superstore of the Year); Stansted Airport (Store of the Year); and Eileen Parkes of the Solihull store (Bookseller of the Year). The week held both good and bad news for the company. Ahead of the opening of its new superstore in Cardiff next Friday, it announced the closure of Borders in Gallions Reach, Beckton, East London, in October. Roche said: “Despite the very best efforts of a talented team, the store has not reached its targets. This is the only Borders store we have closed in the UK and the decision was not taken lightly.” The shop employs 26 staff which it hopes to relocate.

Publishers at the conference were unanimous in not wanting WHSmith to remove the only real alternative to Waterstone's, but analysts contacted by PN warned that the headline- making activities of the global money markets in the last fortnight could slow any deal. “Assets are being re-priced every day which will make people revisit deals,” said David Stoddart at Teather & Greenwood. “The uncertainty in the US has spread its tentacles far and wide and made banks less willing to lend.” Richard Ratner at Seymour Pierce believed that Borders US “may have to take as little as £20m now”, while sources close to Johnson told PN: “They're still negotiating. You cannot be oblivious to what has happened in the money markets, but they certainly haven't given up.”

This report from Publishing News, essential reading for everybody in the business of books

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