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Waterstones to keep expanding under new owners Elliott, says boss

The boss of Waterstones has backed the bookseller to keep expanding on the high street after being snapped up by US hedge fund Elliott Advisors.
Chief executive James Daunt branded the sale process a “distraction”, but said the deal was a “very happy outcome” and Waterstones would push ahead with its growth plans.
The swoop for an undisclosed sum comes after Elliott entered into exclusive talks in January following a search for new owners led by investment bank Rothschild.
The move will see Elliott seize control of the retail chain, with Lynwood Investments - the firm owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut - hanging onto a minority stake.
Elliott, which expects to seal the transaction by early May, said Mr Daunt and the Waterstones leadership team would remain  in place.
“We began expanding two years ago at a very fast rate," Mr Daunt said. "At this stage the intention is to carry on with what we are doing.
“Having a dreary merchant bank around the business has been quite a distraction, but in the last few weeks we have been opening new shops.
Waterstones to keep expanding under new owners Elliott, says boss

James Daunt, Waterstones boss
“There are clearly retailers that will struggle on, and others that will do well because they offer something different. Book retailers seemed to be in the former camp, but now they are in the latter camp.”
Mr Mamut wrested control of Waterstones from CD, DVD and video game retailer HMV Group in June 2011 when fears were mounting over the future of traditional bookselling.
However, concerns that the e-book would spark a downturn in traditional book sales proved unfounded.
Waterstones employs around 3,000 staff and runs 283 bookshops across the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Belgium. It booked sales of ?400m for the year ending in April 2017.
Paul Best, Elliot’s head of European private equity said, “As the leading physical book retailer in the UK, Waterstones is a mainstay of UK high streets and has a huge and loyal customer base.
There are clearly retailers that will struggle on, and others that will do well because they offer something differentJames Daunt
“We look forward to supporting James Daunt and his entire team over the long-term as they continue to build and grow the business.”
While Mr Daunt ruled out plans to close stores under its new owners, pockets of the publishing world expressed concern at the announcement.
Literary agent Jonny Geller tweeted: “Private Equity firm buys majority stake in Waterstones. No mention of future plans or vision so let’s hope it doesn’t mean closing of more bookshops in this country.
“Waterstones is our only high street chain devoted to selling books - long may it remain so.”
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