Borders, Angus & Robertson websites snapped up by educational publisher Pearson Australia
The Borders and Angus & Robertson websites, owned by collapsed book retailer REDgroup Retail, have been bought by publisher Pearson Australia Group.
Pearson Australia Group said the acquisition is a vote of confidence in Australia's "vibrant" market and will likely see the Borders and A&R names live on online for some time.
The acquisition gives Pearson Australia Group – part of global education publishing business Pearson Plc – the Borders and Angus & Robertson websites, stock, a substantial customer base, staff and continuation of key contracts.
Pearson Australia Group also does online sales and eBook retailer Kobo will continue to offer eBooks via the sites.
Pearson Australia Group chief operating officer Dionne Higgins told SmartCompany the websites were a "successful business within REDgroup" and the purchase came after just three weeks of talks.
She said the purchase, for an undisclosed sum, was a sign of support for the local book industry.
"We see Australia as a vibrant market," Higgins says.
She described the Borders online customer base as "not insignificant" and said at this stage the website names will be retained although long-term branding has not yet been decided.
She said it was too early to determine the websites' market share, pointing out that the sites had not been invested in fully during the six months of REDgroup's administration.
When REDgroup collapsed early this year it said online sales for the 2010 financial year were $16 million, less than 5% of the group's total sales for the year.
Pearson Plc includes the Penguin Group and the Financial Times Group.
Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman said the website acquisitions will save 16 jobs as well as "preserve the online business which has a significant profile within Australia book retailing".
The deal follows an announcement last week that one of Australia and New Zealand's largest independent book distributors, the Scribo Group, is about to close, blaming expected continuation of offshore online sales, the REDgroup closure and increased competition from international wholesalers for the move.
REDGroup, once Australia's largest bookseller with an estimated 20% share of the market, collapsed in mid-February.
A buyer for Borders, which once had 25 Australian stores, was not found and the administrator last month flagged the sales of individual Angus & Robertson stores within weeks.