The sale of Borders UK is understood to be imminent, although the US retailer was silent on the issue as it posted second-quarter figures.

Entrepreneur Luke Johnson’s private equity business, Risk Capital Partners, is thought to be the front-runner to buy the chain, which has also been eyed by WHSmith. Ottakar’s founder James Heneage and Irish retailer Hughes & Hughes have both dropped out of the running.

The original sale timetable has run late, leading to speculation that Borders has attracted a lower-than-hoped-for price tag.

Borders’ international sales in the second quarter – including the UK – soared 31.2 per cent to US$169.9 million (£84.4 million), driven by record sales of the final Harry Potter novel.

Group sales rose 10.4 per cent to US$945.1 million (£469.3 million) in the three months
to August 4.

Borders chief executive George Jones said: “Progress is clearly being made as we execute our strategic plan and are beginning to see improved performance.”

* HMV-owned bookseller Waterstone’s has named Unipart as its supply chain partner to run warehousing and distribution for all stores and online.

Waterstone’s supply chain director Simon Blacklock said: “This is a very important step in the development of Waterstone’s supply chain. It will enable stores and more than 2,500 suppliers to communicate more efficiently and cost-effectively,
as well as being more environmentally sound.”