Foyles to open new flagship bookstore on site of Sex Pistols' first gig

 

For 80 years, book lovers have lost themselves within the labyrinthine confines of Foyles Charing Cross Road shop.

Now Foyles is hoping to land a blow against its digital rivals with the launch of a new flagship, state-of-the-art store, on the central London site where the Sex Pistols played their first public gig.

The last of 800,000 titles is being shifted by a team of 60 workmen, working around the clock, to the new Foyles home at 107 Charing Cross Road, just two doors down from its much-loved predecessor.

Opening on Saturday, the spacious new store boasts 37,000 sq feet of retail space, spread across four miles of shelves over four floors.

With competition from Amazon and eBooks squeezing high street bookstores, Foyles, which pioneered the staging of literary events, expects to enjoy considerable revenues from its new 200-seat auditorium, which will be used for talks and concerts as well as a new café.

Mark Titchner, a Turner Prize nominee, is the first artist invited to exhibit in a new 1,300 sq ft space, which will be used to showcase the rising stars of contemporary art.

Foyles has taken over the building vacated by the Central St Martins College of Art and Design. The college assembly hall staged the first performance by the Sex Pistols in 1975. The band were kicked offstage after 20 minutes but their shocking impact kickstarted the punk revolution.

The assembly hall now houses the Foyles children’s department and the stage where Johnny Rotten unveiled his baleful stare has given way to a Harry Potter section.

The new flagship Foyles bookshop is prepared ahead of its opening The new flagship Foyles bookshop is prepared ahead of its opening (Micha Theiner/The Independent)
Jarvis Cocker, a former St Martins student, will discuss his lyrics during a talk in the music books department, marking the opening week.

It was Cocker’s acquaintance with a girl from Greece who “studied sculpture at St Martin’s College”, which inspired Pulp’s "Common People" hit.

Foyles' profits slid last year because of the continued disruption caused by Crossrail building works on Charing Cross Road.

Turnover at the group, which has five London stores and one in Bristol, fell 2.5 per cent to £22.9 million in the year to June 2013, with pre-tax profit nearly halving to £83,000.

Foyles, which began trading in 1903, suffered a blow this week when it announced the closure of its popular St Pancras station branch, after failing to renegotiate viable terms on its lease.

Siôn Hamilton, Foyles’ retail director, said: “I have spent a lot of time thinking about the bookshop of the future. We all know that booksellers need to bring in other revenue streams – whether it is cards, gifts or a café or digital.”

Customers will be able to search for a book and locate its whereabouts in the store using Ariadne, a digital mapping facility created for Foyles which will automatically pop up as a landing page when smartphone users connect to the store’s Wi-Fi network.

Alex Lifschutz, director of project architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, said the old Foyles was a “rabbit warren of small, confusing spaces”.

Whilst the new venue will be easily accessible, he said it would retain the “quirkiness” which customers said distinguishes Foyles from its competitors. There will be plenty of nooks and crannies for literary contemplation between its 10,000 shelves and Foyles will continue to house the largest foreign language department in the UK, with 25,000 titles.

The old Charing Cross store, once the world’s biggest book emporium, closed last Saturday and is expected to become a boutique hotel.

Foyles was famously a soft-touch for shoplifters – Elizabeth Taylor once brazenly walked out with a copy of A.E. Housman’s A Shrophire Lad. That problem has hopefully been conquered.

“We have thought very carefully about where we put out tills,” Mr Hamilton said.

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food