Waterstones’ Russian owner ‘exploring options to sell-up’

High street book chain Waterstones could be swapping hands after reports that its Russian owner is exploring options to sell up.

Tycoon Alexander Mamut has called in NM Rothschild to look at a sale of Waterstones, according to the Sunday Times.

It is thought that Mamut may be attempting to raise cash following difficulties at Russian bank Otkritie, in which he is an investor. It is thought that a sale in the region of £250m is on the cards, though it is not clear to whom.

Mamut acquired Waterstones from HMV for £53m in 2011 and named James Daunt managing director.

In recent years, the retailer has amped up its toy and game offering, stocking children’s book tie-in plush items through to tabletop boardgames.

The retailer has been credited with helping to bring the current board game renaissance to the high street, offering an array of titles from indie publishers through to family classics.

Waterstones generated its first profit in five years in the year to April 2016.

Pre-tax profits were £12.9m versus a £0.9m loss the prior year. Total sales rose to £394.7m from £387.

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