Foyles to open new London store as first step in global expansion plan

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Foyles, Britain's most famous bookshop, is planning to open new stores in cities across the world as part of its first expansion drive since the 1930s.

The privately owned group will target cities where it can establish as authoritative a presence as it has in London, where its business has been based since 1906.

Details of Foyles' overseas ambitions emerged yesterday after the group unveiled plans to open its first new London branch for decades this summer. The store will be located at the Royal Festival Hall and will stock about 30,000 books and a range of sheet music.

Christopher Foyle, the chairman, said the company would look for further "specialist opportunities" in the UK, but would stop short of rolling out a chain of medium-sized bookshops. "We are marked out as having a far larger range of books than our rivals and I don't think we can replicate that around the UK," he said.

But he added that the group was investigating opportunities in cities abroad where it could recreate its unique selling proposition - its range of books.

Mr Foyle is the grandson of William Foyle ,who together with his brother, Gilbert, founded W&G Foyle in 1903. In the 1930s, the company opened outlets in Belfast, Dublin, Capetown and Johannesburg. These, along with London branches in Peckham, Kilburn and Shepherds Bush, were closed down more than 40 years ago.

Mr Foyle said the decision to expand was buoyed by a revival in the company's fortunes. Foyles enjoyed its best-ever Christmas, with a 17.9 per cent underlying sales rise in December. Last year, Foyles reported a trading profit of £218,000 - its first for seven years. After refurbishment costs it made a £1.8m loss.

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