Revenue at Indigo Books & Music rose 6.8% in the first quarter ended July 1, 2017, compared with the same period a year ago, giving the company a strong start to the new fiscal year. Sales hit C$206.3 million at the Canadian bookstore chain. The company also cut its net loss to C$5.3 million, compared with C$9 million in last year's first quarter.

Noting the lack of a blockbuster bestselling book this year, the company attributed growth to strong online sales and double-digit growth in non-book items and sidelines, in particular in the lifestyle, paper, and toy categories. Indigo said sales in its core book business also had a sales increase. Comparable store sales of both physical store and online sales rose 5.0%; online sales were up 20.5% and physical stores jumped 3.5%.

CEO Heather Reisman said, "Our outstanding first quarter performance, with strong growth across channels and categories, as well as greatly improved profitability, is a clear reflection of our customers' passion for our brand and the strong engagement of our employees.”

Indigo continues to roll out its new concept bookstore, launched last year at the Sherway Gardens store outside Toronto, and which offers a clean, uncluttered shopping experience that equally emphasizes merchandise alongside books. This first quarter several more locations transformed into “cultural department stores for booklovers,” including those in Oshawa and Ancaster. In all, 20 stores are expected to be updated this year.

The company also made a small investment in Unplug Meditation Studio, a Los Angeles-based company that runs drop-in meditation events, and is exploring the possibility of bringing the concept to the bookstores.