Barnes & Noble has been acquired by Elliott Advisors Ltd., the parent company of UK-based bookseller Waterstones, for $683 million including debt. James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble following the completion of the transaction, which is expected to close in Q3 2019. Beyond sharing a CEO with Waterstones, Barnes & Noble will continue operating independently.
The transaction is the culmination of the Strategic Alternative Review that Barnes & Noble initiated in October 2018. Elliott plans to apply the same turnaround tactics that Waterstones followed under Daunt’s leadership, which included investing in stores and empowering local bookselling teams.
“I look forward greatly to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble,” said Daunt in a statement. “Physical bookstores the world over face fearsome challenges from online and digital. We meet these with investment and with all the more confidence for being able to draw on the unrivalled bookselling skills of these two great companies. As a place in which to choose a book, and for the sheer pleasure of visiting, we know that a good bookstore has no equal.”
The turnaround strategy is similar to the business model employed by Half Price Books, which creates hyperlocal assortments by giving individual stores a degree of control over what they stock. This approach has helped the retailer maintain slow, steady growth even as other bookstores struggle.