Newswatch: Reading between the lines.

Hailed as one of the ‘engines that drives British competitiveness and job creation’, Ottakar’s has gone from strength to strength since the company’s inception in 1987. The book store achieved a turnover of more than #57m in last year’s full-year results and further growth is expected when the company announce its latest results next week. A recent addition, financial director Edward Knighton plans to keep the company on its current trajectory. ‘Ottakar’s is the second largest specialist book chain in the UK,’ says Knighton. ‘It currently has a turnover of around #73m. I joined the company with a brief to implement new store systems and contribute to its internet development.’ After qualifying in 1987 as a chartered accountant at Coopers & Lybrand, Knighton went on to join book store chain Waterstones. He later spent five years in private equity with Priory Investments and in 1996, he joined the electronic publishers Helicon. The medium-sized book store chain now boasts more than 70 stores employing around 800 staff throughout the UK. For the year ending 31 January, 1998, the company achieved a turnover of #39m. It floated in April 1998. In contrast to city-based book store chains, Ottakar’s chose to focus on medium-sized towns in England, Wales and Scotland. The company came 22nd in a Deloitte & Touche ‘Hot 100 poll’, which identified the 100 fastest growing small-to-medium-sized enterprises in London and the South East in the 1990s.

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