With sales of trade books falling about 6.8% on a same store basis in the second quarter and forecasts calling for more book sales to migrate from print to digital over the next few years. the number one focus at Borders is to redefine its store model, Mike Edwards, CEO and Glen Tomaszewski, interim CFO, said in an interview with PW after release of its second quarter results Wednesday morning.
Edwards said that since there is little chance that sales of print books will increase through its bricks-and-mortar stores, the retailer “needs to redeploy the space” that it has dedicated to trade books. While transforming the stores will take time, Tomaszewski said that the Borders that customers walk into this fall will be much different than the store of fall 2009. The retailer’s Area e digital section will be in all stores by the end of October, more bargain books will be available and the layout is being remade to make it easier to find books, Tomaszewski said. The makeover will include adding approximately 900 new signs per story to help customers navigate their way in the stores. And as reported yesterday, Borders is adding more children’s educational toys and games, adult games and puzzles and more stationery. In addition, Borders will add more open space to create a more relaxed atmosphere, Tomaszewski said.
Despite the changes, the men said that Borders’ purchases from publishers for the holidays will be roughly comparable to last year, although Edwards promised that Borders “won’t over inventory” its stores to guard against flooding publishers with returns in January. There will likely be greater emphasis on publishers’ major releases throughout the chain as well.
One key factor that will influence how Borders remodels its stores is that women are the dominant shoppers at the chain. “Our research clearly is telling us that we have a predominantly female customer, and we are a family- and community-based destination,” Edwards said during the conference call. “That is a significant difference relative to our competitive landscape. This insight, as well as other findings we have gleaned, will not only support our efforts to redefine our brand, but they also inform our decisions around our in-store experience, product mix, and strategic partnerships moving forward.”
In the interview with PW, Tomaszewski said that most of the 56% increase in sales through Borders.com in the second quarter came from the sale of print books. “That was a pleasant surprise,” Tomaszewski said. Borders will continue to aggressively promote its online channel and Tomaszewski said he doesn’t expect sales through Borders.com to slow down this year. Regarding its physical stores, the company has reached buyout agreements on seven unprofitable stores and Tomaszewski said Borders will continue to work with landlords to get out of leases on underperforming stores. He declined to discuss how many stores Borders will close in the current quarter.