Monday, 23 May 2011

UK Book chain Waterstone's bought by Russian billionaire for £53m

Alexander Mamut, a Russian billionaire, promises to refocus Waterstone's as a local bookseller – and has installed James Daunt, former bookseller of Daunt Books to run it.

The cash-strapped HMV retail chain clinched a deal on Friday to sell its Waterstone's bookshops to the Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53m.

The sale, which is vital to secure the future of HMV, came as the music group revealed its finances had deteriorated further since the start of the year.

Mamut, a 6.7% shareholder in HMV, is parachuting in James Daunt, founder of the upmarket independent London chain Daunt Books, as managing director. Despite earlier speculation, it is understood there will be no role for Tim Waterstone, who founded the chain that bears his name 30 years ago. It was thought he could become chairman.

Daunt said his vision for Waterstone's was a return to the model of local expertise that drove the chain's spectacular growth after it was founded in 1982. 'All of us want to walk into a bookshop that lifts our spirits,' he said. 'A central element of my philosophy – which you can see with Daunt Books – is that you have bookshops which mirror the tastes of your customers as closely as possible.'

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