Blackwell takes awards crown
21.09.07 | Graeme Neill
Blackwell has clinched the top prize at the 2007 Bookseller Retail Awards, narrowly beating category winners Asda and The Book People.
More than 500 industry figures and authors attended the dinner in the Natural History Museum last night (Thursday), hosted by comedian Dara O'Briain.
The overall Headline Bookselling Company of the Year has had a remarkable turnround in fortunes. When c.e.o. Vince Gunn took over in 2005, the chain was suffering from significant financial losses and was rife with Blackwell family infighting. Last night, it was lauded by The Bookseller's panel of judges for its astute leadership and company-wide commitment to change.
"Blackwell demonstrates commercial focus, is committed to new store openings, is investing in its people and pursuing new sales channels such as the excellent Connect temporary stores," one judge said. Earlier in the evening, Blackwell won the Retail Chain of the Year, seeing off competition from two-time winner Borders, Hughes & Hughes, Waterstone's and W H Smith.
The Reader's Digest Manager of the Year was Chris Laister-Smith, manager of Waterstone's Birmingham New Street.
Wokingham bookshop Chapter One picked up the inaugural Peter Jones Award for Entrepreneurship in Bookselling. The shop won £10,000 investment for its Great Reads for Reluctant Readers scheme, whereby age graded book boxes feature stories by children's writers.
In the Martina Cole General Retailer of the Year Award, judges noted that finalists Sainsbury's and Tesco had both improved their book offer during the past 12 months. But Asda's "professional and innovative" buying and merchandising won out.
The Book People won the Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year, beating last year's winner, Amazon, and the Book Depository, Play.com, Puffin Book Club and Waterstones.com.
It was not its only prize of the night. The company's founder Ted Smart took the Random House Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling, a unanimous decision by the judges. "Ted is unique," said a judge. "For me he's the absolute clear winner."
Amazon.co.uk's unprecedented level of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows preorders led to its securing the Orion Marketing Campaign of the Year Award.
Chipping Norton's "fantastic" independent Jaffé and Neale Bookshop and Café won the Bertram Independent Bookseller of the Year prize.
Borders UK, on the eve of an expected sale, won the Hachette Children's Retailer of the Year award. The Walker Books Children's Independent of the Year was the Norfolk Children's Book Centre—lauded for its ethical approach.
Richard & Judy's Summer Reads, which dominated the bestseller lists in July and August, won the HarperCollins Award for Expanding the Retail Market. Last year the Channel 4 duo picked up the same award for their annual Book Club.
Bertram Library Services fought off competition from Amazon's Advantage scheme and the Book Depository to win the Nielsen BookNet Supply Chain Initiative of the Year.
You can view the awards supplement, including videos from the judging sessions, here.
The Awards Winners in full
Reader's Digest Manager of the Year Chris Laister-Smith, Waterstone's
Peter Jones Award for Entrepreneurship in Bookselling Chapter One
Nielsen BookNet Supply Chain Initiative of the Year Bertram, library supply chain
Walker Books Children's Independent The Norfolk Children's Book Centre (Highly commended: Tales on Moon Lane)
RHG Award for Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling Ted Smart
Retail Chain of the Year Blackwell
Hachette Children's Retailer of the Year Borders
Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year The Book People
Martina Cole General Retailer Asda
Headline Bookselling Company of the Year Blackwell
HarperCollins Award for Expanding the Retail Market Richard & Judy (Summer Reads)
Orion Marketing Campaign of the Year Amazon.co.uk, Harry Potter pre-orders
Bertram Independent Bookseller of the Year Jaffé & Neale Bookshop and Café