In the early 1990s most small to mid-sized towns in the UK either had no book shop or a poor quality independent book retailer. Ottakar’s had been created to service this market and had substantial opportunities for growth across the UK.

When Graphite first invested in Ottakar’s in 1992, the company had a chain of seven bookshops located in market towns in the south of England. These were performing reasonably well and the company required further funding to continue its expansion. Unlike the local independent retailers, Ottakar’s had the ability to negotiate volume discounts and to introduce a wider range of books to the local market.

We backed a strong manager who had developed the Ottakar’s concept and product offering over the preceding four years. Ottakar’s was ready to be rolled out across the UK. By focusing on small and medium-sized towns, there was limited competition from larger chains. In addition, the greater purchasing power and strong management systems enabled Ottakar’s to compete effectively against independent bookstores as well as larger multiples.

Key Business Achievements

Increased turnover to £38.6 million

Grew operating profit by a factor of 20 between 1992 and 1998

Opened 40 book shops in diverse locations

Achieved strong like-for-like growth in established shop locations

6.0 x

Return on Graphite's Investment

Business Exit

In 1998 Ottakar’s floated on the London Stock Exchange and was subsequently sold to HMV Group plc, generating a multiple of 6.0 times cost and an IRR of 50 per cent.