The ownership of Crossword Book Stores is changing hands as Shoppers Stop, which had acquired the chain of bookstores in 2005, has now sold its subsidiary to Pune-based Agarwal Business House for around Rs 42 crore.
Established in the nineties in Mumbai Crossword Bookstores, a favourite hangout of book lovers, went on to become India’s largest retailer of books. Shoppers Stop, along with ICICI Ventures, bought in 2005. Later, e-commerce giant Amazon, which began its operations by selling books bought a 5% stake in Shoppers Stop in 2017.
“Shoppers Stop has closed the sale of a controlling stake of its 100% subsidiary, Crossword Bookstores Limited to Dinesh Gupta, Aakash Gupta and Family, owners of Agarwal Business House, Pune. The business of Crossword Bookstores is valued at Rs.41.6 crores,” the company said in a press release.
Shoppers Stop added that subject to receipt of necessary consents, it will divest a 51% stake, which is expected to be completed within 15 days, and another 39% in the next 12 months.
“We are pleased to continue the business transformation we set out to accomplish from last March and selling the books business is an important part of that strategy,” said Venu Nair, MD and CEO of Shoppers Stop.
Shoppers Stop has been making attempts to exits its non-core businesses and shift focus on segments like First Citizen, private labels, beauty and its omnichannel business, whose growth as per the company has more than tripled in the last year, according to a report in The Times of India.
The bookstore business was battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The accumulated losses of our wholly-owned subsidiary Crossword Bookstores Limited (Crossword) on March 31, 2021, have substantially eroded its net worth. Whilst, Crossword continues to take steps to revamp its operations (including store right-sizing, and brand positioning). The gestation period to achieve the desired level of turnaround is taking longer than previously envisaged,” Shoppers Stop had said in its annual report for the year ending March 31, 2021.
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