Saturday, March 26, 2011

HMV "pursuing strategic options" for Waterstone's

The Bookseller - 25.03.11 -Graeme Neill

HMV Group has said it is "pursuing strategic options" for Waterstone's, as speculation builds about the future of the business.

It had been reported this week that Waterstone's parent had been in discussions with banks over its turnaround plans. The likeliest option appeared to be a sale, with the chain's founder Tim Waterstone and Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut believed to be interested in the chain.

However, the retail giant said no discussions were taking place about an offer for the entire group. It added: "The group's lending banks continue to be supportive, our banking facilities remain fully available and the group is continuing to maintain a regular and constructive dialogue with its lenders." The group is also pursuing strategic options for its HMV Canada business.

In an email to staff, Waterstone's m.d. Dominic Myers said: "This may take a little time but, as I'm sure you will agree, we would hope to move as quickly as we can in the process. Be assured, I will update you on any developments as quickly as I can."
He added: "Clearly, Waterstone's is a great brand, much loved by its customers, and the last true national specialist bookseller. I have no doubt that, irrespective of ownership structure, it will continue this great heritage."

Despite revealing a turnaround plan almost a year to the day about the future of HMV and Waterstone's, HMV Group has had a lacklustre 2011, issuing several profit warnings. In its last statement to the City at the beginning of March, HMV Group said profits were "moderately below market expectations" because of poor trading since January. Market expectations were for the Group to post a profit of £45m before tax, already down from the previous year's £74m

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