Family bookshop sold to WH Smith

PUBLISHED: 17:13 11 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:17 31 May 2010

Harts Bookshop and newsagents has been sold - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Harts Bookshop and newsagents has been sold - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

AFTER 171 years of trading in Saffron Walden the directors of Harts Bookshop have decided to sell up to WH Smith. Managing director Martin Turnbull said the decision over the future of the King Street shop, including the newsagents had not been taken lig

AFTER 171 years of trading in Saffron Walden the directors of Harts Bookshop have decided to sell up to WH Smith.

Managing director Martin Turnbull said the decision over the future of the King

Street shop, including the newsagents had not been taken lightly but falling sales had made trading uneconomical.

The directors have sold the shop's lease to WH Smith, who are expected to start trading from the store soon after June 24, when Harts stop trading.

And he has vowed to do all he can to find alternative employment for the eight full-time and 10 part-time staff.

Mr Turnbull said: "The decision to sell was made after taking into consideration the fact retail sales of new books throughout the UK have fallen consistently over the last few years, with Harts Bookshop following a similar trend.

"With the expansion of internet and supermarket book sales, the book market place is changing to one where a book is a commodity product increasingly purchased on the basis of price and convenience.

"Profit margins have been squeezed by price promotions, generous loyalty schemes and increasing overhead costs to such a degree that it has become uneconomical to continue trading in the current format."

Mr Turnbull added the friendly staff had helped make the bookshop a success over the years.

"Our dedicated and loyal team of staff have provided excellent levels of service over the years and I will be doing my utmost to help them find alternative employment," he said.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal customers who have, over the years, used Harts as their bookshop of choice.

"In making the decision to cease trading from King Street, we are very conscious that the personal face-to-face service they have become accustomed to may well be lost."

The family company will continue to trade at its office supplies store, Harts Direct, in Shire Hill.

It will also maintain its book ordering service online and by telephone and continue to organise the Saffron Walden Literary Festival.

Visit www.hartsbooks.co.uk and www.hartsevents.co.uk or call 01799 523456 to find out more.

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