The British Bookshops & Stationers (BBS) name is set to survive for the foreseeable future after WHSmith purchased the intellectual property rights of the business plus 22 stores for £1m.
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Eight stores will be rebranded to WHSmith, with the remainder continuing to bear the BBS fascia. About 200 employees will move from BBS to WHSmith, which has selected the best-located stores in BBS’s portfolio, according to sources.
BBS hit the wall last month, due to cash flow difficulties coupled with the tough trading climate for booksellers. Zolfo Cooper was appointed administrator.
The 22 stores are smaller than the average WHSmith store, at about 2,000 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft, but sources said WHSmith traded very profitably from this size of shop.
Other retailers understood to have been eyeing the business included discount bookseller The Works. BBS former managing director John Simpson was also assembling a management buyout plan, but withdrew his offer this month.
Zolfo Cooper said it was “pursuing options for remaining stores”, assisted by restructuring firm GA Europe, which purchased the debt of the retailer before it collapsed.
Arden Partners analyst Nick Bubb said WHSmith expected to make a £1m annual profit out of the stores, “so the payback is going to be huge”.
He added WHSmith would gain traction with the BBS brand because it had a loyal local following.