BBS: Good part of the business sold to WH Smith
"GA Europe played a pivotal role in securing the best possible result for all of British Bookshops’ key stakeholders including employees, customers and suppliers. The entire GA Europe team was very responsive and quickly engaged with the BBS teams. They acted with calmness, professionalism and integrity throughout – at what was a very difficult time for the company.”
John Simpson, CEO British Bookshops & Stationers
British Bookshops and Stationers (BBS), a retailer with 51 stores across the South and South East of England, had struggled in a difficult market for some time culminating in disappointing sales over the Christmas period. GA Europe negotiated a deal to buy its debt early in January 2011, and very quickly took control of a highly distressed retail situation.
We acted very fast to ensure a speedy solution. Deal negotiation took just 5 days from initial discussion to completion.
Stock clearance initiatives delivering a 50% like-for-like sales uplift
Post transaction, GA Europe took full control of all BBS’ stores as well as its warehouse operations. GA’s expertise as retail operators drove a like-for-like sales uplift of approximately 50%. Specifically we undertook a line by line review of pricing resulting in a programme of targeted markdowns, augmented stock in key stationery and newspaper categories and initiated aggressive in-store marketing campaigns. We also assisted the administrators in reaching a successful outcome to supplier retention of title negotiations. Together these actions created a solid platform for evaluating the longer term options for BBS.
Good part of business sold on as going concern
GA Europe’s actions had an immediate impact on turning around the chain’s trading performance, and ultimately in securing the future of a significant part of BBS as a going concern. Some 22 of the chain’s stores were sold on to WH Smith, whilst GA continued to operate the remaining stores before eventually managing an orderly store closure programme. Our actions also ensured that significantly better than normal returns were achieved for unsecured creditors – 26p in the pound.
The transaction saw GA Europe take control of a very challenging situation, and yet again demonstrates the value of our experience as retail operators. BBS was our second recent transaction where the ‘good’ part of the business has been kept alive and sold on. Previously GA Europe had acquired the debt, equity and inventory of SRG, trading as Suits You, in October 2010. Some 15 of the 66 stores were ultimately sold back to former owner Baird Group in January 2011.