Waterstones opened three branches that look like independent bookstores

Waterstone’s Suffolk branch is simply called Southwold Books

It is a behemoth, but Waterstone’s latest strategy to disguise some of its branches as independent bookstores has irked many in the indie bookseller business. Book chains have been known to drive out small players in the marketplace

Is the retailer trying to pull a fast one? “No, absolutely not,” James Daunt, the managing director, told The Guardian. He claims that the motivation isn’t subterfuge, it’s size. Because in the world of brand retailing, size matters.

With this strategy, Waterstones, wants its small shops to look like independent bookstores to facilitate their intergration with local communities. Each new branch has its own character and identity and none of the corporate livery.

So far, three outlets have been opened with quirky names too: Southwold Books in Suffolk, The Rye Bookshop in East Sussex and Harpenden Books, in Hertfordshire.

The concept was quietly introduced in 2014. No-one paid much attention at first, but now Waterstones is under fire for masquerading as the little guy in a world of increasingly homogenised High Streets.

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