Corporate profile

Booking the trends

A new voucher microsite and relaunched vouchers surely mark a new chapter in Waterstones corporate gifting?


Every good story has a good start, middle and end, believable characters with real purpose and a plotline that keeps the audience riveted. Other than the ending, Waterstones has all the traits of a compelling bestseller.

Just look at its beginnings. Established in 1982, what started as one bookshop on London’s Old Brompton Road quickly developed into a nationwide chain and one of the UK high street’s most recognisable brands. Founder Tim Waterstone had a clear vision from the start – to create a ‘literary’ environment for the selling of books and related merchandise. Just take a look at any Waterstones window display and you’ll see carefully selected titles that range from high literature, poetry and lifestyle, to children’s authors and even some downright quirky reading.

Even its staff are employed not just for their retail and customer sales experience, but also for their genuine love and knowledge of books. And it’s not been without it’s fair share of thrills and spills. Last year, HMV Group – Waterstones then owner – announced its decision to sell off the bookseller’s 300 stores and 4,500 staff. Russian businessman Alexander Mamut quickly snapped up the brand in June 2011.

So one chapter ended and a new one began, and Waterstones hasn’t looked back. In fact, it has used this newfound freedom to revisit and relaunch its corporate gift voucher offering.
In April, the brand celebrated the launch of its new corporate gift voucher microsite

The site is an easy-to-use guide for corporate clients wishing to purchase vouchers, understand its bulk order discount scheme (see panel) and get to grips with the benefits of incorporating Waterstones vouchers into reward and incentive programmes.

Waterstones’ Sam Playford says: “Corporate gift vouchers are not new to Waterstones. However, we have now launched a brand-new website so customers can order their vouchers really easily. It has a clear ordering form, so a client can fill out their details, request the number of vouchers they need and get an automated calculation of the cost. Behind the scenes, our finance team processes the orders and vouchers are sent out straightaway – we state that delivery takes 48 hours, but clients often receive them within 24.”

The vouchers are dispatched via secure mailing and all orders have to be signed for upon receipt. Coupled with the new microsite is the redesign of its gift vouchers, which again signal Waterstones’ independence from HMV Group.

Playford continues: “The business has been offering gift vouchers to consumers and businesses for more than five years. However, they could previously be spent at Waterstones and HMV, and were designed to reflect the fact. Now we feel the time is right to relaunch the vouchers, which have also been redesigned to reflect our new branding and streamlined from four denominations down to three.”

The vouchers are available in units of £5, 10 and £20 (Waterstones has dispensed with £1 vouchers) and are available, upon request, in a newly designed complimentary wallet.

So why choose Waterstones vouchers? Playford says: “Everyone likes books, and the vouchers enable people to purchase anything in store. Gift vouchers are a great incentive for companies. Ours are used for awards, recognition, school purchases, and are bought by agencies. They are a great way to invest in employees and our discount deals and lack of VAT mean that the more you purchase, the better the value.

“We have a wide variety of clients – American Express and Orange are two of the big corporates that use them and we have a lot of schools placing orders.”

The twist in the storyline is that the brand isn’t content with its voucher offering and will be spending the next few months working on the launch of its plastic gift card and evoucher offerings, as well as online redemptions.

“In the meantime, we’ll be working on building up our voucher business via Facebook promotions, advertising, competitions and Twitter,” Playford concludes.

The plot thickens…


Fast facts

Waterstones corporate gift voucher service includes:

  • 48-hour delivery for orders received before 10.30am (applicable only to buinesses with existing corporate accounts)
  • Paper vouchers available in units of £5, £10 and £20
  • Complimentary wallets
  • Discount structure, starting at 3% for orders between £250 to £1,000, and 10% for orders exceeding £50,001
  • Free delivery on all orders.

For more information, visit or email

Latest corporate profiles

Measure for measure

P&MM has launched a new Employee Engagement Calculator to help organisations assess the financial impact of engagement

Excellence on the cards

Sainsbury’s Business Direct is ready to spread seasonal cheer with a new website, updated branding and innovative QR gift cards

Many Thanks from Havas People

Many Thanks is a ‘one stop shop’ for all reward, recognition, sales incentive and motivation challenges faced by employers and distributors. As a part of the brand development Many Thanks has launched the first of it’s online solutions under this banner, Many Thanks e-codes!

A whiter shade of sales

It started as a mail order brochure. Twenty years on, The White Company’s multi-million pound retail offering is the…

House of e-cards

There’s a certain brand of confectionary that uses the slogan ‘Why have cotton when you can have silk?’ Why indeed –…