28 February 2022
From The Bookseller (apparently no paywall on this article):
Blackwell’s was put up for sale at the beginning of February for the first time in its 143-year history. The financial details of the sale were not disclosed.
“Blackwell’s and Heffers are among the most illustrious names in bookselling, a legacy for which we have the utmost respect," said Waterstones m.d. James Daunt in a statement shared on Monday afternoon (28th February). "We greatly look forward to working alongside the booksellers at Blackwell’s as we secure the future of these wonderful bookshops and preserve academic bookselling in so many towns and campuses across the UK.”
Toby Blackwell, Blackwell’s outgoing owner and president, said: “After 143 years of family ownership, finding a new home for our business and our wonderful booksellers, has been an extraordinary challenge. Waterstones have demonstrated in their acquisition of Foyles most recently, that they understand the advantages and benefits of holding diverse iconic bookselling brands in their portfolio. I view them not just as a buyer of the business, but as the right buyer at the right time. This is a positive outcome for Waterstones, Blackwell’s and all our customers in the UK and abroad, who will still be able to enjoy the individual nature of what both brands offer. I would like to thank our chairman and board and all of our fantastic staff, past and present, for everything they’ve done to uphold the Blackwell’s name over the years. I wish everyone well with this new chapter.”
And from The Guardian (no paywall):
The UK’s largest book chain, Waterstones, has acquired the country’s largest independent bookseller, Blackwell’s, ending 143 years of family ownership and signalling a further concentration of the bookselling industry.
Blackwell’s, which has 18 bookshops, was put up for sale this month after its owners ditched a plan to hand it to employees. The chain will continue to trade under its own brand.
The acquisition by Waterstones will see Blackwell’s ultimately fall under the umbrella of the £38.4bn US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which in 2019 also purchased the largest US bookseller, Barnes & Noble.
Along with Waterstones’ acquisition of the UK book chain Foyles in 2018, it marks a further contraction in the book retail market.
The acquisition will be viewed by some as a regrettable end to the family ownership of a cherished independent and academic bookseller. To others, it will be heralded as a turbo-boost for real-world bookshops in the battle for dominance with their online rival Amazon.