KPS

Acquisition Opportunity

The Book People

Hilco Streambank is seeking offers to acquire the intellectual property assets of The Book People Limited (in Administration), one of the UK’s most prominent booksellers.

ACCEPTING OFFERS

Toby Underwood and Zelf Hussain, both of PwC LLP, as Joint Administrators of The Book People Limited (in Administration) (“The Book People” or "the Company") have appointed Hilco Streambank to actively seek interested parties with regards to the sale of the Company's intellectual property assets.

The Joint Administrators of the Company were appointed in December 2019 and are continuing to trade the business through its e-commerce channel within a managed wind down process.

Business Background

The Book People was established in 1988 as a bookseller that provided discounted books directly to customers. Subsequently, the Company expanded to sell books, gifts and stationery through its e-commerce website, catalogue and pop-up events hosted at schools and workplaces throughout the UK. Through the established e-commerce platform, thebookpeople.co.uk, the Company targeted direct consumers and schools via a B2B portal. Resultantly, over 90% of UK primary schools have an account with The Book People.

In the financial year ending 31 March 2019 ("FY19"), The Book People generated c. £65.5m in revenue, delivered £2.6m EBITDA and sold over 17m children’s books.

 

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Unique to this sector, the Company, has an omnichannel route to market, with four distinct divisions; e-commerce; school buses and fairs; book events; and distributors. Each diverse route to market gave face to The Book People and a significant brand presence.

E-commerce is the primary route to market through which c. 3,500 curated books are sold online and over 150,000 more are available to order on demand. E-commerce revenue of over £40m was generated in FY19. The Book People holds a unique position in the market with a well-established e-commerce business at its core and a reach into schools and businesses giving unrivalled access to consumers, parents and children.

The school book fairs and bus channel was launched in 2017 to target the 23k primary schools in the UK. In FY19, this growing channel generated c. £2.2m in revenue, and brought significant additional benefits in the form of marketing and promotion opportunities through the interaction with schools.

Book events also operated with staff hosting manned pop-up stores across high footfall and premium locations in workplace, office complexes, hospitals and festivals. In FY19, book events generated c. £4.6m in revenue, with a significant increase in sales in the Christmas period. The Book People also operated a legacy distributor operation, which involved self-employed distributors buying books from the Company for a discount and selling onto the public via unmanned stalls at workplaces and schools via order forms. This division generated c. £10.7m in revenue in FY19.

The Book People has established long-term relationships with publishers, with the Company having had several exclusive licensing agreements and partnerships. These valued relations allowed the Company to curate exclusive book collections, such as the complete Man Booker Prize collection, only available to customers of The Book People.

The Book People brand is well-known throughout the UK. In 2019 the Company launched “Big Book Boost” to position itself as a socially responsible retailer. This campaign aimed to improve childhood literacy by donating £1 to schools for every £10 spent on books. Repositioning of The Book People brand as a socially conscious bookseller has significantly improved brand loyalty by parents and repeat customer business. The launch of TV and cinema advertising and digital marketing campaigns has further modernised the brand and strengthened awareness amongst consumers.

The Children’s young adult and educational market has seen year on year growth since 2014 and the print book market is forecast to grow by 10% over the next five years. This acquisition presents an exciting opportunity for a buyer to capitalise on The Book People's established heritage and brand strength in a growing sector.

Available Assets

Brand

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The Book People is a highly regarded brand, well-known throughout the UK. The brand has been established for over 30 years.

Through book fairs and pop-up events, The Book People has established trusted relationships with schools, offices and suppliers. Of note, over 90% of UK primary schools have an account with The Book People.

In addition to its other customer-facing channels, The Book People is an impressive e-commerce retailer with a Feefo rating of 4.7 out of 5.

As one of the UK's favourite independent bookstore, The Book People has an excellent reputation.

The brand is trusted and associated with a focus on social responsibility. The Book People’s standing as a socially responsible retailer has been furthered by brand-enhancing initiatives including “Big Book Boost”, launched in September 2019, with the aim of promoting literacy in children, going to the heart of The Book People's purpose whilst driving substantial improvements in financial performance. For every £10 spent, the Company donated £1 to a school of the customer’s choice credited to the school's account to purchase from The Book People. Over 6,000 schools have been signed up to this initiative since July 2019. This has created a relationship with customers that encourages both brand loyalty and repeat customer business. Big Book Boost has also resulted in significantly higher customer engagement than forecast, with 23% of eligible customers choosing to participate. Subsequently, this has increased the average order value to £34.71 vs £34.01 for "non-boosted" orders during the launch period.

Recent investment in the brand and a new media strategy focused on TV promotions, as part of a full media mix, has delivered a 21% YOY increase in Pay Per Click brand search, 57% increase in direct web traffic and a 28% increase in new users. This has been combined with a more personalised customer focused strategy, promoting brand loyalty amongst the Company’s customer base.

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Trade Marks

The Book People brand name and logos are protected by UK and EU registered trade marks. The Company also owns registered trade marks in relation to “School People”, “The Gift People” and “The Present People”. A trade mark schedule is available.

Domain Names

The Company has an extensive portfolio of domain names including the primary, branded thebookpeople.co.uk and thebookpeople.com domain names. A full domain name schedule is available.

Website

The Company’s owns copyright in the content of The Book People’s attractive, established e-commerce website hosted at www.thebookpeople.co.uk.

The Book People’s online business has been the Company’s primary route to market. Over 150,000 SKUs are available to order through the website and the average order value is £32. The website drove over £40m in online revenue in FY19.

The website receives an average of 1.6m sessions per month. The Book People achieves a typical conversion rate of 5.5%, which is significantly higher than competitors and the retail market in general.

Considerable investment has been made in the development of The Book People website. Recent investment has included improvements made since September 2019 to enhance the user interface and functionality of the mobile site. New navigation tools and category landing pages have been developed to improve customer engagement.

The website incorporates a dedicated area tailored to schools allowing them to purchase key books for their classrooms and libraries. It also features a rich blog, “The Blurb”, covering book reviews, recommendations, news and celebration of authors and illustrators.

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Customer Data

The Book People’s unique market position and heritage has allowed it to build up extensive customer data. This includes a database containing 1.2m active online customers, of which over 800k placed orders in the last year. A further database of corporate customers is available.

Social Media

The Book People brand and website is supported by a strong social media presence:

  • Facebook - - @TheBookPeopleLtd c. 133K likes
  • Instagram - @TheBookPeople 15.1K followers
  • Pinterest – thebookpeople 5K unique monthly viewers
  • Twitter - @TheBookPeople c. 20.9K followers
  • YouTube – The Book People 6.72K subscribers

Sales Process

All expressions of interest and bids are to be directed to Hilco Streambank in writing. A Bid Submission Form is available to downloand. Please contact Hilco Streambank to gain access to a virtual data room of further information on signing of a confidentiality agreement.

Key Terms & Conditions

The Joint Administrators act as agents of the Company and without personal liability.

The bidder acknowledges that Hilco acts as an agent for the Joint Administrators of the Company who offer for sale only what right, title and interest (if any) the Company possesses in the intellectual property assets. Such sale will be without any warranties, expressed or implied. The information provided has not been verified by Hilco or the Joint Administrators and bidders are deemed to have carried out their own due diligence.

VAT, if applicable, at 20% will be added to the price. A buyer’s premium of 10% applies to this sale. A non-refundable deposit of 20% will be payable by the buyer within 48 hours of bid acceptance. Legal completion to occur within 5 business days of bid acceptance. Hilco Streambank's full Terms and Conditions apply.

Contact Us

For further information please contact the following Hilco Streambank representatives:. 

Interested Parties

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