Waterstones Ireland profits increase 36% to €3.4m

The Hodges Figgis book store in Dublin is the second best performing across the 183 outlets owned by Waterstones, its managing director James Daunt has said.

Mr Daunt was commenting on new accounts that showed that the Irish arm of the bookseller posted a 36% increase in pre-tax profits to almost €3.4m in the 12 months to the end of April.

However, revenues in the Republic, where the bookseller also operates in Cork, fell 3% to €13.1m, from €13.4m.

The firm cut costs by 11% to almost €9.8m in the year.

The directors’ report in the accounts said that revenues fell “in a year absent of significant titles”. However, Mr Daunt said that current-year sales of its top titles “have come roaring back”.

He said the business had tapped “fantastic” sales from a number of titles, including from two Irish authors, Sally Rooney from Co Mayo, and Booker Prize winner, Belfast’s Anna Burns.

Waterstones made Sally Rooney’s Normal People its 2018 Book of the Year and Mr Daunt said that the title had broken records, with sales of 30,000 copies across the chain in December.

“The sales of Sally Rooney’s Normal People have been sensational,” he said.

“They have exceeded all our expectations, and Anna Burns’ Milkman has also sold really well.

Mr Daunt said that sales in the current year have also been boosted by Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming.

The Irish Waterstones business was “doing wonderfully”, he said.

Mr Daunt said that the business will “hopefully” expand, before cautioning that Ireland was “pretty well book-shopped”, and so there were fewer opportunities for expansion.

Staff numbers at Waterstones Ireland fell to 72 from 77, which saw staff costs decline to €2.17m from €2.2m, the report stated.

Shareholder funds at the company totalled €11m that included cash of €5.79m.

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