Collins Booksellers has acquired a group of Angus & Robertson franchisees that will trade under the Collins brand, with negotiations continuing for a “significant number” of other A&R franchisees.
Collins confirmed its acquisition of an undisclosed number of A&R franchisees, believed to be in double digits, ending months of speculation.
“This acquisition will enable former Angus & Robertson franchisees to trade under the Collins Booksellers brand and receive the full range of benefits provided to Collins franchisees,” the company said.
“Negotiations continue with a significant number of other Angus & Robertson franchisees that have expressed interest in joining the Collins Group. Announcements regarding additional franchisees joining Collins Booksellers will be made in the coming weeks.”
Collins chief executive Daniel Johnson says the purchased A&R stores are located across the country, reflecting the network spread of the embattled bookstore chain.
The acquisition increases Collins’ store network to more than 70 franchise stores nationwide, further entrenching the company as Australia’s largest network of franchise-owned bookshops.
REDgroup Retail, the parent company of Angus & Robertson, once Australia’s largest book retailer, was placed in the hands of administrator Ferrier Hodgson in February.
A group of 25 A&R franchisees unsuccessfully sought to break their franchise agreements after REDgroup collapsed, claiming they were no longer receiving their franchisee benefits.
In Ferrier Hodgson’s calls for expressions of interest in March REDgroup was listed as having 103 corporate stores – 25 Borders and 78 company-owned, as well as 51 franchise-owned A&R stores and online businesses under both brands.
Earlier this month Ferrier Hodgson said 16 of the remaining 19 company-owned stores would close by the end of the month, another two had been sold and talks were continuing on a third.
After Dymocks snapped up two company-owned stores this month chief executive Don Grover said the company might end up with more A&R stores.
REDgroup’s online business was recently bought by Pearson Australia Group for an undisclosed sum.
Collins says it is embarking on a new growth phase, having recently acquired online book retailer Seek Media and it is soon to announce other new projects.
Collins will re-launch its website and e-commerce platform later this year, enabling the company to shift to “an integrated, multichannel retail business that shares the benefits with its franchisees”.
In a first for franchise book retailing Collins franchisees will receive a percentage revenue share of all online sales, including e-books, sold to customers within their assigned territories.