Book People snaps up Qwerkity to reach new market

Garry Wilson of Endless.
Garry Wilson of Endless.
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A BOOK retailer which is owned by a Yorkshire-based private equity firm has secured an acquisition to help it expand into a new market.

Book People has acquired Qwerkity, a mail order and online gift business, from its private owners.

Endless backed the management buyout of The Book People in a £15m deal in 2014. Since its acquisition by Endless, Book People has developed its e-commerce business and it now has specialist analytics, merchandising and customer acquisition and retention teams.

Qwerkity distributes eight million catalogues per year and has a strong market position with older customers, Endless said. Qwerkity was founded in 1989 by Jane Hudson as a mail order business. Its revenue in the year ended January 2017 was £9.1m.

The Endless spokesman added: “Book People has also been through a similar evolution since it was established in 1988, and today it sells through its online and mail order channel, along with its local bookseller network. This unique mix of sales channels provides the company with a strong platform for future growth, with revenues in the year to December 2016 of £79m.”

Endless said that Book People has increased the content and information available on its site “to reinforce its reputation as the authoritative provider of books and expertise for children’s reading”.

Endless has offices in Leeds, London and Manchester and is investing its fourth fund of £525m. 

The firm focuses on carve outs from large corporates, acquisitions from other private equity houses, management buyouts and turnarounds. 

Over the last two years, Endless has completed 15 deals, involving businesses such as Jones Bootmaker, Carpet & Flooring, Imtech, MTI, Arran Aromatics and Essential Fleet Services.

The firm has a portfolio of 23 businesses with total revenues of more than £2bn.

Book People’s management believe that Qwerkity’s strong brand and customer base, will combine successfully with their company’s online expertise.

William Wellesley, the chief executive of Book People, said: “Bringing Qwerkity into the Book People family gives us a great opportunity to grow its business using our digital, buying and fulfilment expertise.

“Our expansion into the gifting market, through this acquisition, also represents the natural next step for Book People.”

Francesco Santinon, a partner at Endless, said: “Book People is a well-known, well-established and profitable business with great future earnings

potential in its own right.

“We are very happy to be able to support the acquisition of Qwerkity which is an ideal bolt-on and will allow us to fully utilise the core strengths of Book People.”

Book People was the second Endless investment in book retailing, a sector dominated by Amazon.com.

In 2014, Garry Wilson, the managing partner of Endless, told The Yorkshire Post: “We have had a fantastic experience with our investment in The Works, which is an important seller of discount books. Amazon is a very strong mass-market player but The Book People offers fantastic value and has a very loyal following of customers. It’s a nice niche to be in.”

Endless was founded by Mr Wilson and Darren Forshaw in 2005. It has attracted a wide range of backers, including businessmen, sports stars and Ivy League universities.

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