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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Instore chaos as Borders UK files for bankruptcy

Borders UK filed for "administration" (the UK equivalent of bankruptcy) last week, with the firm MCR overseeing the process after another company, BDO, pulled out at the last minute citing an unspecified conflict. Stores started offering discounts to help sell off existing merchandise -- but if you think you scent a bargain, think again.

The Bookseller's anonymous blogger "Borders Insider" has posted an amazing account of lack of leadership, lack of communication, orders issued that are almost instantly countermanded, and banners advertizing competing discounts for the same book. The receivers, MCR, might be hot with the accounts ledgers, but booksellers, they ain't. Their ploy seems to be to send out POS (point of sale) banners, and then wait to see what happens. "'Up to 50% off everything' signs go up everywhere (confusingly alongside the 20% ones," writes the blogger. Then, according to him or her, "things get seriously weird. Having removed all other offers many books are now more expensive than they were but this fact seems lost on customers."

Or perhaps not. Over the first weekend, as the shop is "quickly devastated" by bargain-hunters, the penny drops for some. But who gets accused of being "money-grabbers"? Not Borders administration (which has gone deathly silent), or the resident MCR rep., who is bereft of useful information. No, it is the poor guy or gal behind the counter who cops the blame. "Booksellers are reduced to tears. Many are angry and there is much gritting of teeth but no one is rude or abusive."

Click the Bookseller site for this eye-opening post.

1 comment:

Martin Evans said...

A short comment on the failure of Borders UK, published in the business pages of the Telegraph last Saturday, stated that all high street bookshops are under pressure. High rental costs clash with falling sales, as Internet sellers and supermarkets offer up to 50% off retail prices. The article ends: "The likes of Dan Brown won't be fazed by the news. But for authors hoping to sell anything less popular, life has just got a little harder."
Sorry to convey this gloomy news, Joan.