Waterstones and Hodges Figgis are offloaded for £53m in HMV sell-off
THE landmark Hodges Figgis bookstore on Dublin's Dawson Street is among the outlets that have been offloaded for £53m (€61m) by HMV to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut.
The retailer was forced to sell its Waterstones book business -- which includes the Hodges Figgis store -- to secure refinancing of its debts in order to avoid covenant breaches.
In all, 296 bookshops are being sold to A&NN Capital Fund Management, which is ultimately controlled by Mr Mamut. He also owns a direct 6.7pc stake in HMV.
He has already installed a new boss at the Waterstones business and pledged an "undiluted commitment to books and bookselling". A comprehensive review of the business is also to be undertaken.
Waterstones operates just three stores in Ireland, after it closed two of its outlets earlier this year -- at the Jervis Street shopping centre in Dublin and a store opposite the Dawson Street Hodges Figgis premises.
Those stores employed nearly 50 people between them. The remaining Waterstones-branded shops are in Cork and Drogheda.
In the year to the end of April 2010, Waterstones Ireland posted a loss of €8m after it shouldered hefty impairment charges. Revenue at its stores here declined 12pc to €21.7m.
HMV said the disposal of the Waterstones division was an "important step towards strengthening the capital structure" of the remaining group.
In the 17 weeks to the end of April, group sales at HMV sank 12.1pc and wholesales at outlets in the UK and Ireland tumbled 15.1pc. Waterstones' sales declined 8.4pc.
The Waterstones unit is being sold to Mr Mamut free of all pension liabilities, save for those related to the Irish pension scheme.
Shares in HMV closed in London up over 10pc at 11p.