The chief executive of UK-based books retailer Waterstones has said its Hodges Figgis store in Dublin was the second-best performing outlet across its 183-strong group.
James Daunt confirmed the sales ranking of the Dawson Street store in the UK and Ireland group when commenting on new accounts showing that the Irish unit enjoyed a 36 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to €3.39 million in the 12 months to the end of April last.
Accounts for Waterstones Booksellers Ireland Ltd show it achieved the increase in pre-tax profits in spite of revenues declining by 3 per cent to €13.1 million.
The business achieved the increase in profits after cutting back on its cost of sales by 11 per cent to €9.79 million. It was also flattered by a €923,000 exceptional credit relating to “favourable lease negotiations”.
The directors’ report attached to the accounts stated that revenues dropped “in a year absent of significant titles”.
However, Mr Daunt said that in the current year, bestseller sales "have come roaring back" and the business has enjoyed "fantastic" sales from a number of titles including two from authors on this island – Sally Rooney from Co Mayo and Booker Prize winner Anna Burns from Belfast.
Waterstones made Ms Rooney’s Normal People its 2018 Book of the Year and Mr Daunt said it shifted 30,000 copies of the novel across the group in December.
“The sales of Sally Rooney’s Normal People have been sensational. They have exceeded all our expectations and Anna Burn’s Milkman has also sold really well,” he said.
Mr Daunt said that sales in the current year have also been boosted by the sales of Michelle Obama’s memoir, and that the Irish arm of Waterstones was “doing wonderfully”.
“Hodges Figgis is doing fabulous while there is a fantastic spirit in our Cork store where the staff do a great job as well.”
Mr Daunt said that the business would “hopefully” expand but Ireland “is pretty well book-shopped so there are less opportunities for expansion”.
Numbers employed by Waterstones Ireland last year fell from 77 to 72 with staff costs reducing from €2.2 million to €2.17 million. Shareholder funds at the company totalled €11 million, which included cash of €5.79 million.