Bookstore chains team up

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Norway’s Libris and Norli bookstore chains announced plans on Thursday to merge, creating the country’s largest book and stationery retailer with 178 stores nationwide.

Libris and Norli will have common ownership, reports news bureau NTB, but each will retain its separate profile in the market. The newly formed company will be  owned by retailing giant NorgesGruppen, best known for its grocery store chains, and publishing firm Aschehoug & Co.

NorgesGruppen, which has run Libris through its NorgesGruppen Bok og Papir unit, will have a 49 percent stake in the new firm and Aschehoug, which has had Norli as its retail outlet, with 51 percent, but executives of the two firms claimed they would share power equally.

Norli has been ailing financialy in recent years and has closed some of its stores, but it remains a highly respected player in the Norwegian market, not least for its academic product line.

Sverre Leiro, chief executive of NorgesGruppen, said he had “great faith” that the merger would strengthen both Libris and Norli. Consumers were more skeptical, pointing to NorgesGruppen’s profits over the years.

One reader writing in a debate forum on Norwegian Broadcasting’s website nrk.no claimed the merger would likely strengthen the book chains, but “at the expense of consumers.” Leiro, he wrote, “isn’t the boss for the country’s biggest grocery conglomerate for nothing.”

Views and News staff