England

British Bookshops in South East sold to WH Smith

Tunbridge Wells British Bookshops
Image caption The bookshops will continue to trade under their current name for the time being

High Street chain WH Smith has bought 22 stores in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and south London from the administrator of British Bookshops and Stationers (BBS).

The retailer, which paid just over £1m, said about 200 workers would transfer to WH Smith in a phased takeover programme starting on 22 February.

The first stores will be at Teddington and Southwick. They will trade under their current name for the time being.

The stores have stayed open since BBS went into administration last month.

Recovery firm Zolfo Cooper said it was actively pursuing options for the remaining 29 branches.

British Bookshops, which is based in Hollingbury, Brighton, started life as Sussex Stationers and grew during the 1980s and 1990s into a regional South East chain.

It was sold to Irish booksellers Eason and Sons and was again sold in May 2009 to private equity firm Endless, which installed a new management team.

Simon Appell, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: "We are pleased to have been able to safeguard the iconic British Bookshops & Stationers brand through the sale of 22 stores."

The other shops bought by WH Smith are in Bexhill, Bognor, Chichester, Crowborough, Eastbourne, Hailsham, Lancing, Lewes, Littlehampton, Rustington, Seaford, Shoreham and Uckfield in Sussex.

There are two in Brighton and one in Hove, along with two in Surrey, at Dorking and Reigate.

Stores in Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells in Kent, have also been sold.

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