Foyles to sell books outside London in Selfridges tie-up

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Foyles, the iconic London bookshop, unveiled plans yesterday to sell titles outside the capital for the first time in more than 100 years.

London's largest independent bookshop, which was founded in 1903 and still remains in the Foyle family, is to open concessions in Selfridges department stores in Manchester and London next month.

They are the latest in a series of measures by Foyles' chairman Christopher Foyle - the grandson of the co-founder William Foyle - and Bill Samuel, the vice-chairman, to reinvigorate a business they inherited six years ago in sharp decline.

Under their stewardship, Foyles' flagship five-floor store on Charing Cross Road was refurbished. It stocks 500,000 books.

In June last year, the company opened its first new shop for more than 70 years, on the South Bank as part of the redevelopment of the Royal Festival Hall.

In April, Foyles entered a partnership with Historic Royal Palaces to open bookshops at the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, as well as book zones at Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and the Britain and London Visitor Centre on Regent Street.

Foyles and Selfridges characterised their tie-up as a natural fit for their brands. William Foyle and Gordon Selfridge, the American founder of the department stores group, were said to have known each other a century ago.

The first Selfridges store opened on Oxford Street in London in 1909. In the early years, it sold 60,000 copies of a velveteen-covered Book of Common Prayer in days.

Christopher Foyle said: "Selfridges and Foyles share a rich heritage. Both stores are family-owned with an individual approach to our businesses. We look forward to developing this partnership and looking at new ways to do things differently."

Independent bookshops have come under enormous pressure from the likes of Waterstone's and Tesco. Vivienne Wordley, commercial director of Foyles, said: "It's bloody tough out there. You have the chains and the supermarkets. But they only sell a fraction of the range we sell. You have to carve a space out for yourself."