• Waterstones full-year losses narrow to £4.5m
  • Investment in stores and a broadened range drive sales up
  • Comes amid a resurgence in physical book sales

Waterstones full-year losses have narrowed after investment from its new owners and a deeper range of books helped boost sales.

The bookseller posted a loss of £4.5m for the 12 months ended April 27, 2015, down from £18.8m a year earlier, after ploughing £8.3m into refurbishing stores and improving the retailer’s infrastructure.

The investment from Waterstones owner Alexander Mamut, coupled with an improved range of books, drove sales up 1% to £392.4m during the period. Sales had fallen 6% to £390m the previous year.

The retailer has also wooed customers into stores with its W Cafe, which has opened in 28 of its shops.

Waterstones swung into the black in terms of operating income, posting a £5.4m profit compared with a loss of £3.8m in 2014.

Sales have been further boosted by a resurgence in physical book sales, which jumped 3% during the first half of 2015, according to the Publishers Association trade body. Sales of digital books dropped 2% during the same period.

Last year, Waterstones boss James Daunt revealed that the retailer would stop selling the Kindle e-reader in most of its stores due to declining popularity.

Since the year end, Waterstones reported a 5% jump in sales during the Super Thursday weekend as a “better vintage” of book launches drove customers into stores.

Waterstones closed six shops during the financial year and opened four new stores, taking its total at the year end to 274.

It comes amid reports that online rival Amazon is eyeing up to 400 bookshops in the US after piloting its first bricks-and-mortar presence in Seattle.