Administrators called in to The Book People this week are continuing to trade the business as they look for a buyer.
Toby Underwood and Zelf Hussain of PwC were earlier this week appointed joint administrators of the business, ranked Top350 in IRUK Top500 research, after its working capital came under pressure in a difficult trading environment.
They say no redundancies are currently planned at the Surrey-based business, which employs almost 400 people and is currently running its biggest ever winter sale online.
Toby Underwood, restructuring partner for PwC, said: “I can confirm that the business continues to trade and at this point in time no redundancies are currently envisaged whilst we rapidly explore a sale of the business. The intention is to fulfil and deliver all customer orders received and accepted.
“I appreciate the obvious concerns that staff in particular will have as we move towards Christmas. Whilst the administrators have funding to meet the payroll for December, the longer-term prospects for the business, staff, customers and suppliers will clearly be dependent upon whether a sale can be secured.”
The Book People was founded in 1988 and turns over more than £50m, selling more than 17m children’s books a year. It has 393 staff who work at its Goldalming, Surrey headquarters and its 92,000 sq ft warehouse in Bangor, North Wales.
More than three-quarters (76%) of its sales take place online, with the rest sold via employed and self-employed distributors who sell at mobile book school fairs and buses and at pop-up stores in workplaces.
The Book People’s failure has had a knock-on effect on suppliers including publishers. One small publisher, Galley Beggar Press, has successfully raised more than £40,000 in less than 24 hours through crowdfunding in order to save its own business.
Image: Screenshot of thebookpeople.co.uk