BGroup signs accord on Borders bookshop franchise

BERJAYA Group Bhd is expanding into book retailing after having signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Borders Inc - a subsidiary of global book, music and movie retailer Borders Group Inc - to establish a franchise arrangement to operate Borders stores throughout Malaysia. 

Michigan-based Borders Group is the leading global retailer of books, music and movies with annual revenue totalling US$3.7bil and employs about 32,000 employees worldwide. The company operates over 450 Borders superstores and about 700 Waldenbooks stores throughout the United States. 

The first Borders store was expected to be opened in April next year at Berjaya Times Square, a Berjaya Group statement said yesterday. 

Under the arrangement, Berjaya will operate the stores consistent with Borders' brand experience while staff training and systems support would be borne by Borders. This will be the first international franchise arrangement for Borders.  

Berjaya chairman and chief executive officer Tan Sri Vincent Tan said in the statement: “We are privileged to be the first Borders franchise in the world and we look forward to a mutually rewarding relationship with Borders in the coming years. 

“With the focus on reading and literacy, the marketplace is ready for an expanded choice in book retailers. With the vast assortment Borders stores offer within a welcoming shopping environment, we are confident customers will embrace the Borders brand in Malaysia,” he added. 

Berjaya Group currently operates the Starbucks and 7-Eleven chain stores in Malaysia through franchising. It also owns Malaysia's largest shopping mall, Berjaya Times Square with built up area of 7.5 million sq ft. 

The statement said plans were for Borders to source the titles offered in the store - primarily English language, but also Malay and Chinese language books - with the aim to provide the widest range of titles in the country.  

Borders stores president Vin Altruda said he looked forward to Borders' expansion to Malaysia. 

“It is an extension of the successful presence we have in Singapore, where the first store outside the US was opened in 1997. 

“Borders Group's international expansion is a key of our company's overall growth strategy. And our global operation is expected to be increasingly important in contributing to our sales and profits,” he added. 

Based on its successful record, Berjaya was a “first-rate choice'' to operate the first Borders franchise in the world, Altruda said.  

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