The German book trade is getting closer and closer. After the Thalia and Mayersche bookstore chains merged in early 2019, Augsburg bookseller Weltbild announced that it would sell ten of its remaining 36 stores to Thalia. These are stores in Chemnitz, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Halberstadt, Leipzig, Nordhausen, Nuremberg, Potsdam, Suhl and Warendorf, which are expected to return to the Hagen company on October 1. A location at Ahaus will change hands on August 1. The two companies have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.
According to its own statements, Weltbild is keen to take its online business further, but has no plans to completely transform itself into an online retailer. The corona pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce, it is said. The remaining branches have remained “an integral part of Weltbild’s multi-channel strategy”, explains company boss Christian Sailer. “In the future, they will have more of a ‘showroom’ character for the brand.” Since the temporary insolvency in 2014, Weltbild has successively reduced its branch network to more than 150 sites initially. The company based in Augsburg currently operates 30 stores in Switzerland and Austria as well as ten Jokers stores nationwide with sales remaining.
Hagen’s competition, on the other hand, is intensifying again and will be represented in seven more cities in the future. Thalia’s sales manager, Ingo Kretzschmar, said in a statement that the Weltbild stores would have been closed without the sale. “Our initiative means that important and accessible places to read are preserved,” he says. A spokesperson for Weltbild declined to confirm that sales figures generally played a role in the selection.
In the future, Thalia will thus have a network of branches of around 330 stores in Germany, of which around sixty come from the Aix bookstore Mayersche, which moved to Thalia in 2019. “The stationery trade is and will remain a essential part of our omnichannel strategy, ”says Kretzschmar, Sales Director of Thalia. The company also offers a buying, selling and IT platform for other booksellers. She is joined by the Tübingen Osiander book chain, which is currently converting its 65 or so branches to the new system, but according to its own information, has no plans to merge with Thalia.