Friday, March 30, 2007

Piccadilly's closing too

Speechless. Does anyone there know what they're doing?


  1. Adam

    Have you considered just how much the current "market rent" per sq ft is in both Oxford Street and Piccadilly?

    Piccadilly - the old Simpson's - was always going to a store which could not pay its way.

    Waterstone's already had a Piccadilly presence via Hatchards

    Large floor area bookshops,of departmental store size, are just not viable unless the property was purchased many years ago.

    I read somewhere that Waterstone's had to find over £40million quarterly rent on Monday morning - Piccadilly and Oxford Street would have been a lot higher per sq ft than many of the Waterstone's prime shops.

    For this industry watcher the ridiculous move was when Waterstone's opened the two white elephants, Oxford Street and Piccadilly ; closure was a foregone conclusion, it was just a question of the timing.

  2. Clive,

    When I said, does anyone know what they're doing, I meant why open the things in the first place.

    Piccadilly has always been a barn and doomed to failure.

    My point is that if nobody in charge knew what they were doing then, why should they know what to do now.

  3. I still think it's sad. I have my reservations about Waterstones but I've always loved sitting in that beautiful bar overlooking London knowing I'm held aloft by all that literature - and I've been known to buy a few books on my way out too. What you say makes perfect sense but I'll still be sorry to see it go.

  4. I'll be sorry to see the Piccadilly branch go - it was so lovely and quiet, with not a customer in sight.

  5. The more I think about it the less inclined I am to dance on the grave of the chains. Do we really want a situation where they all disappear? Indies won't be able to afford the rents that will bring them back to the high streets, and the last thing I want is a world where I can only buy books from the supermarket or Amazon. Let's hope that this will be a wake-up call for better management rather than the beginning of the end for bookselling of any kind on the high street. Otherwise some towns will end up with no bookshops at all.

  6. Marie

    If the bookchains die, so will many indies.

    The rich man's strength is his castle, the poor man's poverty its destruction.

    If, perish the thought, customers were just left with the likes of Tesco, Asda-Walmart and Amazon then both price and supply would be heavily manipulated.

    I dearly want to see Waterstone's survive and prosper : but the business needs to be run by people who understand the booktrade and not just by the suits (who have been in control all this decade).

    Time for me to shut-up !

  7. Time to re-think the whole thing.

    What was that we saying about Print On Demand all last year?

    Who needs the system as it stands? C'mon everybody let's think laterally!

  8. Marie - don't you have a book coming out in the summer?

    I wonder if your opinion would be different if you were not hoping to see it in the window of every chain in every country! (Apols - have always been a cynical tw*t)

    I don't think anyone is "dancing on the grave" of Waterstones or any other chain. (Well maybe a bit, but it's kind of rubbish, "old blokes in the teenage disco stylee" dancing)

    We are just chuffed to see stage one of our prediction come true.

    Stage two involves people realising that the internet and Tesco would lead to a very sterile shopping experience and make them all go rushing into the nearest indy. We await stage two eagerly...

    As for small towns and the threat to bookshops there - who ever moved to the country for a great cultural experience? That's what cities are for! The country is for sheep, cows and people who want a "quiet" life.

    (I am already ducking the cowpats lobbed in my general direction by the rural rebels!)

  9. I work at Piccadilly so excuse the anonymous bit but we are not closing

  10. What a great twist to this post! Where did you get your info Adam? Do you know something that the staff don't.

    I'm agog!

  11. Um - that's a bit harsh, Matthew.

    In an ideal world every street would be stuffed full of gorgeous independent bookshops, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, clothes boutiques etc but the reality is that aside from a few hyper-expensive enclaves most people shop on high streets populated by chains and they don't have the money or the time to seek elsewhere. Maybe they should - but they don't. A *good* chain bookshop should provide a great service for these people who are maybe less interested in independent shops than we are, but who enjoy reading all the same. I think it would be a disaster for them, for writers and for publishers if they ended up with nowhere to go for their books but Asda or online.

    As I said before, there are very few indies who can afford high street locations so the death of the chain will be a death for bookshops at all in some areas. "Rushing into the nearest indie" aint that practical if the nearest indie is 200 miles away. And as for your let them eat cake attitude to those outside large cities, you should know better, and I will let you mull over it and get increasingly embarrassed by your words all by yourself.

  12. The staff in Piccadilly will probably know nuffin until the suits tell them that they are getting the chop, which will not be until parties negotiating for the lease have signed a legally binding agreement.

    I would consider the departure of Piccadilly (ex Simpsons) to be very long odds on : why not ring up Ladbroke's and ask them what price they will give you that Waterstone's will be trading at Piccadilly (Simpsons) in 2008 !!!

  13. To follow on from Marie's comments, I believe that if the bookchains close or end up a fraction of their former selves, that the publishers will have little interest in the terrestial bookshops and will increasingly be looking to Amazon.

    Few publishers are going to give a shite about the remaining indie bookshops, and "our" future and that of the chains is probably far closer entwined than some would care to admit.

    This is why, for the terrestial booktrade's sake, I want to see the chains survive and be vibrant.

    Oh, and Matthew, I trade in England's smallest market town which has a population of only just over 1,000 ; the residents here, and in the surrounding area, even those who work on the land, are highly literate and enjoy their culture. Not worth throwing a cowpat at you, crap is useful it rejuvenates the soil !!

  14. Oh dear - Scott Pack calls his blog "me and my big mouth" but that was what I was going to call this place...

    Sorry country folk.

    Sorry Marie.

    Sorry Waterstones.

    Anyone else I need to apologise to?

  15. PS

    This is a blog - I take it about as seriously as matching my socks!

  16. We wear odd socks with sandals down here.

  17. So why did Tescos wipe out the local high street?

    Basically, we're weak and we've got f**kin' huge mortgages.

    Prices might be cheap now but when tesco is the last man standing we're in for a hell of a shock...

    But I think the tide may turn and it won't be us metropolitan snobs that do it.

    It's the old 'tipping point' conundrum. At what point will people get BORED of shopping in megastores? It's coming...

  18. Thanks for the panick that you'e now sent around the branch now we don't know if our managers are lying to us ...

  19. Rule number 1:

    Never trust a manager...

  20. I work at Waterstones Head Office and its all hell breaking loose here. There is too much focus on market share and not enough on bookselling and that is because there is not enough people who know the trade here. They just come from big business and wouldn't know who won the last Booker prize, because they don't care. All they care about is who wants to give them the best dividend and marketing fund, not what sells. They would re-market Mein Kampf or the BNP manifesto in the 3for2 if they were given enough to do it.

    More than anything, customers are being driven to the internet because the branches are understaffed and the staff have lost their will through what HMV have done to them, putting their futures and theri friends future within, in the balance.

    I'm going soon, like many others have before me because they can see the tide changing. When Scott left, it was the beginning of the end but then again he was a tool and people hated the way he thought he ran the place anyway.

    ...and Picadilly is closing, they just haven't been told officially yet.

    Teams are currently in place in other stores such as Basingstoke already to 'consolidate' and 'replenish' the teams, it's sad but that is what we have to do.

  21. I know for sure that Waterstone's Piccadilly is not closing and am appalled that you should announce this without checking your facts first. Your smug throwaway comment picked up from Lunchtime O'Booze will have incorrctly convinced upwards of 100 people that they may be about to lose their jobs. For god's sake grow up.

  22. hear, hear...not that makes anyone feel much better everybody seems to have 'the facts' about what's happening at Piccadilly. Another faceless head office person has made a comment. We're use to that by the way! Apparently they know what's best. They know which books to promote, which shops to shut, which person to bring in from Dixon's, Currys, Bass brewery (all well known book retailers) in order to better the business. I wonder what books they can recomend to a friend, what suggestions they could make to a customer...we are good at Piccadilly we know our books. They want passion, they want knowledge, they want 'the power of one'...what they don't want is to stop worry, the don''t want to quash the rumour mill that is currently grinding us downif we do shut come to us ye independents, come hire us we are worth every penny!

  23. one old publisher who thinks he knows best about bookselling to another old publisher who is bitter about not really being that big a success but still kows best.... in a bar gossiping
    1 "heard last month that in picadiily it was snowing"
    2 "arghh so waterstones picadiily is closing"
    1 " no I said snowing but what you said is much more interesting"
    1 "lets publish and get 100+ people really nervous and probably ruin their weekend but at least we'll look really clever"
    2 "yes and then lets make the usual men in suits and managers comment as we know they lie all the time"
    1 "but werent we managers once and I certainly own a suit"
    2 "those weere the days when we could publish books that noone wnated to buy"
    1 "those were the days , now the industry is run by "retailers"
    2 "yes and of course everyone knows they only read magazines and newspapers"
    1"I know lets beat them at their own game .. open a bookshop that only stocks the books we like (ie published by us or written by our friends) and ban anyone who watches big brother , in fact watches any tv , likes films made in hollywood , and especially shops in supermarkets as we all know they are evil"
    2 so its a shop ofr me and you then....
    1 good point oh well back to spouting nonsens and spreading stupid rumours

    I'll probably get slated ...but really

  24. to anonymous ...... "another faceless head office person knows which shops to shut"

    as a head office person at another business I will remain facelss as you are by being anonymous .. but my guess is most people would know which shops to shut ... ie those that are losing money .. knowing the rents on ox st I'd guess waterstones was losing money hand over fist at that branch ....
    Booksellers that lose money dont tend to last (ask Ottakars)

  25. i remain faceless because I do not want to lose my job..for we are not allowed opinions..we are not allowed to speak. Maybe I don't have the balls to put my name to this but I stand by everything I say. We are suffering an unslaught of various information and none of it is good. We work hard, we love our work (most of us) and quite frankly on my estimations the turnover at Piccadilly is in the millions and all of that is done on the work of the bookseller. that's alot of books !

  26. Hi anon

    i agree re Picc i'm sure re the size of the branch it does take millions and I dont think it is shutting. The first people who know about it tend to be property agents who are about as reliable at keeping anything quiet as kiss and tell operator for the news of the world (that is how retail week got news of ox street going to uniqulo or whatever they are called. From what i heard Wat werent looking to close it but Uniq came in with a massive offer which if you compare to something that is losing money you just cant refuse) and there is nothing on the grapevine re picc - so i think it is just gossip from people with nothing better to do. I think it is irresponsible to just reproduce rumours without checking facts .... a bit like news of the world journos
    i think Picc is a great store even if a couple of times I have been made to feel a bit sub normal because i did not know how to pronounce an authors name.
    I just think it is an easy option to say people who work in other areas of a business have no passion for a product or know nothing about that product - it kind of implies that only by working directly with books can you know anything or feel passionate about them and that by definition if you work in another area you've had your soul removed (I know this isnt the point that you made - so i guess it is the other anon preson thats wound me up a bit)

    apols about the faceless bit and being anon .. it was a cheap shot

  27. Matthew and Adam should be expecting a call from Waterstone's legal team this week, actually.

    Pucker up your sphincters boys. xx

  28. I'm sure they have more important things to do...