Does Waterstones Franchise?

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waterstones franchise

As one of the biggest names in the book industry, Waterstones is a common sight on the British high street and has been for over 35 years. While many people assume that the rise in digital technology and the dominance of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime is resulting in the downfall of the book industry, the reality is that the revenue from publisher book sales has risen to more than £3.5 billion from 2010, when it equalled just over £3 billion (Statista).

Some might assume that the rise of e-readers and audiobooks is having a disastrous impact on traditional books, but while 54 percent of people in Britain have purchased a physical book in the past year, just 24 percent have downloaded a digital book.

However, it is huge, multinational businesses such as Amazon that pose a real threat to comparatively smaller brands like Waterstones, not to mention independent bookshops. According to The Guardian, the number of independent bookshops has halved since the launch of Amazon in the mid-1990s, to comprise just over 850 in the UK.

Physical bookstores should ensure that they take sufficient measures to cement their place in the book market. Launching a website is an obvious solution (and a step that Waterstones has already taken), but stores can encourage customers to step over the threshold into the store by holding reading groups, author signings or other events, or even setting up a small caf and offering refreshments.

History of the Brand

Waterstones has been selling the latest bestsellers to the people of Britain since 1982. It was launched when Tim Waterstone spent £6,000 of redundancy money from WH Smith to fund the first Waterstones store on Old Brompton Road in London.

Waterstones was highly profitable and expanded to open more stores. In 1993, WH Smith bought the chain for £47 million. In the five years that followed, the brand grew considerably, and in 1998 it was bought by EMI and Advent Capital to become part of the HMV group for £300 million. In 2011, the bookstore changed ownership again, after being sold to Alexander Mamut, who owned Euroset, the biggest mobile phone company in Russia. By this point, Waterstones was the countrys largest bookshop chain, operating almost 300 stores across the UK.

The brand has had its ups and downs, but today Waterstones stands strong, having bought Foyles in 2018, and employing more than 3,000 booksellers across the UK.

More about Waterstones

This bookshop champions established and up-and-coming writers alike, and awards a vast number of prizes to talented authors every year. As well as bestowing awards such as the Waterstones Book of the Year and the Waterstones Childrens Book Prize, the bookstore works with a number of organisations to present an array of other prizes. These include the Costa Book Awards, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Orwell Prize, the Man Booker Prize and the Womens Prize for Fiction.

Waterstones has also come under fire in recent years as a result of its decision to open shops in small villages under different names. Small and anonymous Waterstones branches were opened in Rye in East Sussex, Southwold in Suffolk and Harpenden in Hertfordshire. Only customers who read a handwritten notice in the shop windows would know the true identity of the store. Many residents were hostile towards national chains as they caused the rent of local high street businesses to increase. Waterstones were accused of misleading the public, but the store claimed that the brand had adopted a different image in order to fit in with the villages aesthetic of independent shops and to reflect the fact that these stores were much smaller (Southwolds shop was 700 square feet, 1,800 square feet smaller than the smaller existing Waterstones).

Waterstones Franchise

Unfortunately, Waterstones does not currently offer any franchising opportunities. However, the brand does try to make an active move away from a corporate business model that lacks originality. Branch managers are afforded a significant amount of independence and autonomy when it comes to running their individual store, taking lead from local influences and trends.

Whilst investors cannot currently start their own Waterstones branch, there are other ways to get involved with the bookstore chain. The main way is to become a Waterstones affiliate, by placing a link to the bookstores website on their own. Any sales that are made via this link earn the affiliate a commission.

Other Opportunities at Point Franchise

Although Point Franchise does not offer any bookstore franchises at this moment in time, there is plenty of opportunity to join other businesses in the retail industry.


CeX stands for Complete Entertainment eXchange, and buys, sells and exchanges technology and entertainment. This includes DVDs, CDs and videogames, mobile phones, computers, televisions, and other digital electronics. Founded in London in 1992, the tech franchise now has more than 600 stores worldwide in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, the Netherlands, India, Mexico and Australia.

Investors interested in adding to the 265 franchised stores of the 380+ CeX stores in the UK should get in touch with the company via their website. Franchisees will benefit from the companys 27 years of experience and can expect to make an annual turnover of more than £1 million after two years. Investors must be in possession of £40,000 capital and be able to make a total investment of between £150,000 and £250,000. CeX will provide initial training and ongoing support will keep franchisees in the loop.

Esquires Coffee

If tech isnt your thing, why not open a coffee shop franchise? With a total turnover of almost £9 billion, the coffee shop industry is on the up. With the number of coffee shops rising while the number of pubs falls, as 82 percent of consumers visit a coffee shop weekly, it could be an extremely profitable business move to open up a franchise within the coffee sector.

Esquires Coffee is one coffee shop that has steadily expanded since its launch. The store first opened its doors to the public in Canada in 1993, and was introduced to Europe in 2000. Now, there are over 50 branches in the UK and Ireland, and the brand has been ranked the UKs second most ethical coffee business and the UKs leading coffee franchise (Elite Franchise, 2017).

Franchisees can decide which business model is better for them, with the option to open a standard coffee shop or a kiosk in a retail centre. Either way, £250,000 will cover property agency fees, store design and fit-out, furniture and equipment, while all franchisees will be asked to pay £22,000 in franchise fees.

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