US bookseller plans joint venture with Ottakar ahead of flotation

BARNES & NOBLE, the American bookseller, is looking to enter the UK book market through a joint venture with Ottakar's, the British chain that is planning a stock market flotation next month, writes Nigel Cope. The two companies have held discussions about working together on opening large book superstores in town centres.

It is also understood that Barnes & Noble looked closely at both Dillons and Waterstone's about possibly buying one or both of the chains before they joined forces as part of the new HMV Media Group.

The move would trigger a major shake-up in the UK book market which has consolidated over the last six months. It could spark a price war as it has built its reputation on cutting prices in order to drive sales higher and build market share.

James Heneage, Ottakar's managing director, would not confirm the talks but said: "We know the people at Barnes & Noble and we talk to them from time to time. But we are committed to the flotation and we believe this is the best way to take advantage of the opportunities in this dynamic market."

Barnes & Noble has been looking at the UK market for some time and had a team of staff here last year looking at potential sites.

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