Brighton bookshop chain sheds 40 staff

Posted On 24 Jan 2011 at 4:10 am

Forty staff have lost their jobs at British Bookshops and Stationers, the Brighton-based chain of bookshops formerly known as Sussex Stationers.

The company is in administration and shed 25 head office staff and 15 people in its warehouse. They all worked in Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury.

None of the shop staff were affected although prices were discounted even more than usual at the weekend to try to shift stock and bring cash into the stricken business.

A spokesman for Zolfo Cooper, the administrators, said that the sale was not a final clearance sale, according to The Bookseller website.

He said: “This process is not about ending the BB&S business, rather it is about realising existing stock with a view to making the business as attractive as possible to interested parties.”

He added that a number of expressions of interest for the retailer had been received.

These are believed to include a second management buyout bid by chief executive John Simpson and Ford Watson, the finance director.

They bought the company just under a year ago from private equity firm Endless.

Endless is also rumoured to be a bidder. It owns The Works, which also sells discount books as well as DVDs and toys, and has a shop at Brighton Marina.

The Works has only a limited geographical overlap with British Bookshops, with the latter operating 51 shops mostly in Sussex and the wider South East of England.

They include stores in Western Road and London Road in Brighton and George Street in Hove.

Michael Chowen, who built up Sussex Stationers with his brother Jonathan, has also spoken to the administrators.

Insiders accept that it is a tough time to try to sell a bookshop chain with strong competition on prices from the supermarkets and online retailers such as Amazon.

The advent of ebooks only adds to the doubts about the sector’s long-term prospects.

Simon Appell, of Zolfo Cooper, said: “At this time, we would simply like to thank every member of staff for their professionalism, patience and dedication during what has been a difficult period.”

British Bookshops went into administration just over a week ago.

It blamed poor trading in the second half of last year and the snowy weather in the run up to Christmas.

  1. AGasworthy Reply

    So sorry that the business has failed. Worked for Sussex Stationers and BBS for 10 yrs, was good under M.Chowen if you`ll pardon the expression but after that was miserable.She knows who she is and she made our lives terrible after take over – for people just doing their jobs. Warehouse had her male counterpart, ACAS didn`t solve anything. At least they both lost their jobs too -thankful for small mercies.

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