Smaller University Bookshop on cards

University Book Shop manager Phillippa Duffy in its Great King St shop. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
University Book Shop manager Phillippa Duffy in its Great King St shop. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
After cutting staff numbers, the University Book Shop (UBS) is now considering reducing the size of its Great King St store.

Staff at the book shop were told in June to reapply for their jobs, as bookstore manager Phillippa Duffy looked at ways to reduce costs in the face of falling revenue.

Miss Duffy said yesterday the restructuring resulted in the number of full-time equivalent positions being reduced from 19 to 13.

The Otago University Students' Association-owned shop could be in for more change, with options being considered to reduce the shop's size and split up its Great King St site.

The shop, especially now a second branch had been opened on campus this year, did not need to take up as much space as it did, Miss Duffy said.

She met architects yesterday and options being examined, including what should be done with the space upstairs previously used to sell text-books and whether to keep the ''non-stop sale'' upstairs or move it downstairs, freeing up space.

It had no plans to move the shop.

''The iconic building is very much part of the UBS identity and we have no plans to move.''

Any adjustments would be carried out alongside seismic strengthening to the quake-prone building.

It was ''too early'' to say when work on the building would go ahead.

A plan to expand the on-campus site by 50% would go ahead much sooner, with work to be carried out later this year and completed in time for when students return for first semester next year.

She said the future was bright for the book shop, with staff cuts and other changes to the business meaning a surplus was forecast next year - a turnaround from the past two years of deficits.

These changes were necessary to keep the business viable, which was something staff ''in the main'' realised.

''Online sales, e-book sales, the retail recession, all of those things had taken their toll on the business.''

She accepted the changes did not sit well with some staff.

''It's very difficult when the broader pragmatic business decision has an individual personal effect.''

Of the staff made redundant, most chose not to reapply for their jobs, with only a ''very small number'' of those who did apply not being re-employed. Staff who stayed at the store fulfilled less specialised roles.

She was also going to increase the number of events held by the store, revamp its online presence and raise the profile of its children's section.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

 

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