Waterstone’s founder Tim Waterstone is considering a £100m-plus bid to buy the book chain from its parent HMV if it fails to turn the business around by the end of the year.
Tim Waterstone is understood to be closely monitoring the business, according to City sources who told the Observer.
It is thought Waterstone is ready to pounce if HMV decide to sell the book chain, which has suffered from a decline in sales and profits as well as disruption from its new distribution centre in recent years. Waterstone has lined up funding from investors including a London-based hedge fund.
Rebel shareholders are reportedly pushing HMV to sell the flagging book chain. However sources close to HMV told the Observer that there was no intention to sell the business at present.
Waterstone opened his first store in 1982 on London’s Old Brompton Road. He then sold the Waterstone’s chain to WH Smith in the early 1990s, which then sold it onto HMV in 1998 for £300m. In recent years the business has come under threat from online book sellers such as Amazon.
Waterstone attempted to buy back the business in 2006 but discussions collapsed following a disagreement over the terms of the deal.