Monday, 22 January 2007

Woolworths becomes a big book player

Woolworths has always been a bookseller - it was one of the first outlets for Penguin's mould-breaking paperbacks. But the company has suddenly become the dominant force in British book distribution.

This week, via its Entertainment UK division (EUK), it bought the renowned wholesaler and library supplier Bertrams. Founded by Elsie Bertram from her garden shed in the 1960s, Bertrams revolutionised the supply chain, enabling booksellers to order an unmatchable range of titles for next-day delivery.

The Norwich-based business has been through rocky patches, but this £29m deal sees it join former rival THE to form a group supplying Tesco, Sainsbury's and numerous websites - as well as thousands of independents. Publishers will be concerned: although such consolidation was inevitable, this will pile yet more pressure on trading terms.

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