Book wholesaler looks to acquisitions after successful business sale

After a year that saw it narrowly avoid going into administration, put up for sale and subsequently acquired by Smiths News, Norwich-based book wholesaler Bertrams is now looking to acquisitions of its own.

The positive progress is down to a £500,000 profit posted by the book and library supply business for the five months to the end of August, a boost that can probably be attributed to a handful of million-pound deals with the Daily Mail and some libraries in Scotland.

Managing director Michael Neil acknowledges that "the business performed very well" in the wake of previous parent company Woolworths' collapse last November. He puts the success down to a rapid rebuilding of stock levels following the March takeover by Smiths.

"When Smiths News bought us, we were running at around half capacity," he explains to The Bookseller. "I thought it would take around four months to get it right, but our stock situation was sorted within six weeks."

The fact that customers didn't desert the business while things were looking shaky helped too, he grants, though he also highlights that the recession does not appear to have dented the book trade in the same way it's hit other retailers.