TURNAROUND plans at book shop chain Waterstone’s have received an early boost after figures today showed an improvement in recent sales trends.
The retailer suffered a disappointing Christmas season but with new leadership and a plan to increase non-book sales it has slowed the decline in like-for-like revenues to 4.8% in the 16 weeks to April 24.
This compared with a drop of 8.5% in the five weeks to January 2 and 6.2% over the whole of its financial year.
HMV, which owns Waterstone’s, said its overall group performance was in line with expectations, despite a 13.2% drop in like-for-like sales at its UK and Ireland music retail business in the 16 week period.
It blamed the fall on strong comparatives against a year earlier, the impact of the snow disruption and its focus on managing margins.
At Waterstone’s - which has struggled amid the recession and poor sales of usually lucrative big name autobiographies - the group aims to increase non-book sales from 6% to 10% in the next three years.
The plan will see more stationery and gifts on the bookseller’s shelves as it looks to capitalise on its position as "the last remaining specialist bookseller on the high street" after the collapse of rival Borders late last year.
Waterstone’s is under the new leadership of Dominic Myers after the group branded its Christmas performance as "unsatisfactory".
The HMV chain has also diversified as it positions itself to weather changes on the high street and in the music industry.
It hopes new products such as entertainment-related fashion will rise from 9% of sales to 21% by 2013 under the plans.