Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Borders anounce plans for expansion

Philip Downer, new CEO of Borders UK confirmed at the company's annual conference on Monday, that the chain is to launch a loyalty card scheme next year. Downer added that following a management buyout last summer, the company aims to expand its number of stores, taking full advantage of the recession, with cheaper rents. This follows the recent announcement that the company is seeking to become a single brand on the High Street through the sale of its Borders Express and Books Etc stores. It also follows a summer of closures and considerable uncertainty for Borders superstores throughout the country.

Non book sales in the form of various novelty items currently account for around a third of the company's business, and Downer hopes in the coming years to increase this to around 50 percent. It is hard to see how this will be achieved without negatively impacting upon the the sale of books. It is however a sad fact of life that since the abolition of the Net Book Price agreement with the resultant erosion in the perceived value of books through ever increasing discounts, novelty items generate considerably more profit while taking up a lot less space. This is particularly important with Christmas approaching, when let's face it, people buy all sorts of junk.

Downer said that a "full space-planning programme" was now under way, backed up by consumer research this autumn, to ascertain whether his plans are what his customers actually want. With no Borders near me, personally I will be sticking to Waterstones.

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