Co-Op enters voluntary administration on collapsing textbook sales

The Co-Operative Bookshop has entered voluntary administration, appointing PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators, largely due to over the counter textbook sales falling 40 per cent on last year.

The group consists of 34 Co-Op Bookshop stores across university campuses, as well as 63 Curious Planet stores – formerly known as Australian Geographic – which also has an online presence. 

Administrators said the group intends to undertake an urgent review of the business to ensure a strong Christmas period, and that they intend on keeping all stores operating on a business as usual basis. 

“The combination of weak retail trading figures coming up to Christmas, and the collapse of over the counter textbook sales by over 40 per cent from last year, has left the board with no alternative but to appoint a voluntary administrator to help this proud organisation through this period of time leading up to Christmas,” said Co-Op chairman Joe Merhi.

“The Co-Op, founded in 1958, has a proud history of serving its members which now number close to 2 million Australians, but the massive decline in the purchase of textbooks has meant that the board need to diligently and proactively address the potential risks of trading in the Christmas period.”

Earlier this month, SMH reported that the Co-Op owes more than $12 million to suppliers and publishers, and that in many cases these payments are months overdue.

Additionally, Australian Geographic Holdings ended its licensing agreement with The Co-Op in October, forcing a re-brand of the 63 stores to the ‘Curious Planet’ label.

The decision was based on the Australian Geographics growing momentum in the publishing market, with Roy Morgan noting that the magazine had the second highest increase in readership at 19.1 per cent year on year. 

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