Press statement for Blackwell Limited

1st February 2022

Blackwell's seeks new owner

Blackwell's, the UK's largest independent Bookseller, is for sale for the first time in its 143-year history.

Blackwell's is an incredibly resilient business with a proud heritage and history of innovation, celebrated for the expertise of its Booksellers. During the last two years the shape of the business has changed dramatically with Blackwell's benefiting from rapid online growth, complementing its iconic flagship and university bookshops.

The family owned bookseller trades online at and has a portfolio which comprises eighteen shops, including its world renowned Flagship at 50 Broad Street Oxford and Heffers of Cambridge, as well as shops in London, Edinburgh and Manchester, alongside those based on university campuses. Blackwell's also has a successful corporate, professional and institutional business serving both private and public sector organisations such as the NHS and Government Departments.

Blackwell's multi-channel strategy has seen the Bookseller grow sales each year for the past five years, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with like for like sales for the year ending December 2021 delivering a further 1.9% increase in sales year on year. Driven by the transformation of its eCommerce channel and its website in particular, the business has continued to improve its overall financial performance.

During 2021, Blackwell's management team had been engaged in a re-financing exercise in an attempt to fund the move towards its long held goal of becoming an Employee Owned business. When that ultimately proved to be difficult, due in large part to the ongoing uncertainty on the high street caused by Covid-19, the Blackwell Limited Board undertook a strategic review to assess all options for the business. With the support of Julian (Toby) Blackwell, it was unanimously agreed at the Blackwell Limited board that now is the right time to search for a new owner, who will build on the current strategy and continue to invest in the brand in order to secure a long term future for the company.

David Prescott, Blackwell's Chief Executive commented, "The sale of Blackwell's represents a genuinely unique and exciting opportunity for any potential buyer to own a much loved and trusted bookselling Brand. The business has been quietly and successfully transitioning itself in recent years to establish a substantial global online presence alongside a core portfolio of iconic shops. We hope that a new owner and investment will help us to secure a long term future for Blackwell's and its Booksellers for many years to come. As we look to start a new chapter for the company, I'd likely to publicly thank Toby for his support and commitment over many, many years. Without him, Blackwell's simply wouldn't be here today."

Julian Blackwell, Blackwell's Owner and President said, "I would have loved to have handed over the company to its staff, but I also accept that in order to grow and remain competitive in the future, it is time for new ownership, ideas and investment. I have always stood for innovation and transformation in the constantly changing world of bookselling. I am delighted to have supported, and now see, Blackwell's become a significant player in online bookselling and to have helped keep alive the concepts of service and expertise so well embodied by our Chairman and Board and our wonderful staff."

Blackwell's will be working with Begbies Traynor Group Advisory on the sale.