Waterstones are the UK’s largest highstreet bookseller, with a network of more than 235 stores across the country. What first started as a single shop in London in 1962 is today a leader of the industry, with around 4,500 employees and a range that stretches beyond books into stationery, gifts and magazines.


Waterstones had a large and diverse magazine range in their stores, with a good variety of specialist titles. To achieve this, they had five different suppliers, which meant having five different invoices to deal with, five different delivery charges and five different locations for returning unsold stock. This was not simply inconvenient, but significantly increased the risk of waste: if their staff sent unsold magazines back to the wrong supplier by accident, Waterstones would lose out on the credit.


Having so many suppliers was simply untenable. High delivery costs, high shrink (stock loss) and a high maintenance administrative structure all combined to put the whole category in jeopardy.


Put simply, we consolidated the whole category. In less than two months, we worked with all of the suppliers to ensure that Waterstones could retain a wide and varied magazine range, but with a simplified process for both the stores and the administration team. We arranged for a single weekly delivery into their stores, together with a single returns process – taking the pressure off the staff in store and minimising the risk of shrink and, hence, lost credit.

As well as the actual magazine logistics, we also simplified the invoicing process – putting all the products on a single invoice to take the administrative burden off the team at Waterstones.


Today, the process of supplying magazines to Waterstones is much simpler, with less demands on their time in store and at headquarters, and reducing risk. As such, the magazine category is not only viable, but profitable.


“Before we worked with Retail Spark Connect, our magazine range was a headache – a drain on our time and our balance sheet. Tom and his team have turned this around, cutting through the complexity to save us time, hassle and money.”