The Book People goes into administration

Wed, 18 Dec 2019 | ADMINISTRATION

Online and pop-up book retailer The Book People has gone into administration, announcing that it has appointed advisers from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC administrators have said that there will be no immediate redundancies and that trading will continue as normal as administrators seek to secure a rapid sale of the business. All orders already placed for Christmas are due to be fulfilled.

The Book People was founded in 1988 in Godalming, Surrey by Ted Smart and Seni Glaister. The company employs nearly 400 staff and operates from a warehouse in Bangor.

Private equity firm Endless acquired the company in 2014. 2017 saw The Book People make sales of £71 million, but its profits fell to £1.1 million from £6.2 million the year before, with the company’s debts then at £33 million.

It makes 70 per cent of its sales online, also selling direct to schools and businesses and through pop-up shops in workplaces. In addition to books, the company also sells toys, stationery and gifts, both online and through its catalogue.

Discussing the company’s problems, Endless partner James Woolley said: “The well-documented challenges in the retail environment compounded by the strength of global online booksellers, has severely impacted operating cashflows over recent years.”

Joint administrator and PwC partner Toby Underwood said: “The intention is to fulfil and deliver all customer orders received and accepted. I appreciate the obvious concerns that staff in particular will have as we move towards Christmas.”

“While the administrators have funding to meet the payroll for December, the longer-term prospects for the business, staff, customers and suppliers will clearly be dependent upon whether a sale can be secured.”

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