Tue, 01 Mar 2022 | BUSINESS SALE
The UK’s largest independent bookseller Blackwell’s has been acquired by Waterstones for an undisclosed sum that is reported to be in the low single-digit millions range. The acquisition by Waterstones, which is owned by US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, will bring Blackwell’s into the same group as US bookselling giant Barnes & Noble, which was purchased by the hedge fund in 2019.
The deal represents a further contraction of the book-selling industry, which has seen a high degree of consolidation in the UK and abroad over recent years as physical booksellers struggle to keep up with e-commerce brands such as Amazon.
Blackwell’s, which trades online and has 18 physical bookshops around the country has been a family-run business since it was founded over 140 years ago. Prior to the sale, the company planned to ââput the business into employee ownership, but this plan ultimately fell through. Post-acquisition Blackwell’s will continue to trade under its own brand.
Toby Blackwell, Blackwell’s outgoing owner and president, added: "After 143 years of family ownership, finding a new home for our business and our wonderful booksellers, has been an extraordinary challenge. Waterstones have demonstrated in their acquisition of Foyles most recently, that they understand the advantages and benefits of holding diverse iconic bookselling brands in their portfolio.
Blackwell's CEO David Prescot added that the company's new owner had pledged to invest in Blackwell's and its growing e-commerce business.
Waterstones, which also bought Foyles in September 2018, currently has 291 book shops across the UK, Ireland, Brussels and Amsterdam.
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