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Bookseller McLeods facing competition from former manager

Bookseller McLeods facing new competition from former manager

19 March 2014

Long-standing Rotorua book shop McLeod’s Booksellers is about to get some competition – from its former manager.

Fraser Newman, who worked as the manager for the long-time Rotorua bookseller for two years, left the company in February.

He has confirmed to The Mud he is setting up a new bookshop with "the biggest and best" range of services in Rotorua. He has purchased Books Alive, a second hand bookshop on Eruera Street, and is taking over the former Martins Toyworld.

Martins is a few doors up from another second hand bookshop, Idle Hour, which is closing down, but Fraser Newman’s move promises to be more than just replacing one second hand bookshop with another. McLeods has had a long reputation as a quality bookshop, refusing to shake its stake in the ground in order to widen its offerings away from what one report described as an "eclectic mix".

The Martins site has a total area of 400 square metres and will provide additional services to shoppers and the writing and reading community. This development is in keeping with the trend nationally and internationally for booksellers to diverse the shopping experience in order to combat competition from online book sales.

Although not fully finalised, this is likely to see developments around providing a coffee and reading area; a more spacious and varied book buying experience; and space upstairs for meetings and book launches.

Lynne Jones, who with her husband, David Thorp, owns the nearly 95-year-old McLeods, says the established book seller does not feel threatened by Fraser Newman’s move.

“He has bought as he has bought a second hand shop and is expanding into other areas that are not competing with us. In the big scheme of things it is great to have a new bookshop in town.”

She did confirm that some staff members from McLeods were leaving to join the new venture. “I hope we can work side-by-side and complement each other.”

It is understood, however, that the new venture has also access to the Circle software, which provides a valuable tool for independent booksellers throughout New Zealand.

NOTE: McLeods Booksellers has only had four owners in its near century. Started in 1920 by AT Coates, it was sold in 1943 to Ken McLeod, a Gordon & Gotch rep, who gave the store its current name. In 1963 Trevor Thorp, who previously had a bookshop in Otorohanga, bought McLeods. David joined his father in the business in 1979 and after an overseas stint, took over the business in 1982. Source: NZ Booksellers.


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