Close this search box.

Warehouse tech issue still impacting Waterstones profits

Image © Shutterstock

Bookseller Waterstones may have seen an uplift in sales in 2023, however profits have plummeted following a backlog of orders caused by issues with its stock distribution technology.

Its statement for the 52 weeks to 29 April 2023 showed pre-tax profits fell to £11.2mn, less than a quarter of the £50.6mn it reported the year before.

Waterstones had previously stressed that its new warehouse system was now “stable and effective”, but the book retailer admitted that it needed to clear a backlog of orders before the “painful process” is over.

Waterstones upgraded to a new warehouse system in 2022, but soon after reported that technical problems lead to it struggling to get stock out to shops and fulfil direct-to-customer orders. This in turn “impacted sales and resulted in the temporary elevation of operating costs and reduction in margin”.

While the warehouse system issues may have hit Waterstones’ profits, the bookseller saw full-year sales increase by 13% to £452.5mn, up from £399.8mn. It credited footfall and sales recovering post pandemic for this lift. The retailer has seen “encouraging growth in London and other metropolitan areas as tourist numbers increase and workers return to the office”.

Waterstones added that it had benefited from the “increased popularity of both reading and physical bookshops, supported notably by social media and positive press coverage”.

We deliver!
Our editor picks some choice pieces from the analysis flow and sends them to your inbox every Wednesday. Dedicated research report previews will also come direct to you. Subscribe for the emails.

Why not join us on Linkedin and you’ll get the best updates on our research and analysis – UK, Europe and Global – in your feed.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on