Asking how the brick and mortar booksops will evolve after de Covid-19 crisis will evolve it’s something a bit risky, as Michael Busch -CEO of Thalia Bücher GmbH- said in the opening of his presentation at Readmagine 20. His participation took place during the first week of June when the lock-downs in several European countries were lasting for almost three months.
After the introduction by Jordi Nadal (the managing director of the Spanish publishing house Plataforma Edtorial), Busch declared that the invitation from Readmagine team to talk “about the future of brick and mortar after the Covid-19 crisis and things will change is always a view into the crystal box and maybe in one, two or three years time a lot of people are laughing about this video and say: this is the one who totally underestimated the change or who was too panicked about it”.
However, one of the wonderful surprises that Busch’s intervention contained was that, before delving into the description of the current situation, he did a quick and complete review of the strategic evolution and results of each of the operational phases during the last decade of the group he leads.
That description ended with an updating of the situation of Thalia during the Corona crisis, defined by the following situations:
- Permanent risk of insolvency in the retail sector with an expected 15-25% loss of sales in 2020.
- Ecommerce and business areas excluded from store closures are becoming more important.
- Massive increase in vacancies and erosion expected in city centres.
- Relevance and benefit of marketplaces and platforms increases.
Other of the inspirational messages from Busch was his explanation of omni-channel optimization to tap the revenue potential, which is also a way to face the “ever-changing market situation where Thalia’s position in the market changes dynamically”, which Busch presented with as the relation between innovation and customers, illustrated with chessboards, because the transformations are moving much faster than in the last century. The chessboard is moving and you have to move in the same direction and faster and the CEO of Thalia is afraid that sometimes the book industry is not moving fast enough and in the right direction, furthermore “Corona showed us that something can come out of the blue and might change direction and the necessity of speed”.
Among many other insights that Busch shares in this video he explains how Thalia strategy is now to recover customers to the on-line business that were lost. Their plan is to reach a similar market share as the company has in stationary or digital (around 20%) by doing a very good job with the omni-channel system.
Michael Busch, born 1964, is CEO and Managing Partner at Thalia Bücher GmbH. After completing his degree in Economics at the University of Cologne, he began his professional career at KNIGHT WENDLING Consulting GmbH where he worked in the field of corporate restructuring and M&A. Michael Busch joined DOUGLAS HOLDING AG in 1993 as a controller in the Douglas Group. In 1995 he was appointed to the management board in the DOUGLAS Group’s Book division, before becoming the division’s CEO in 1998. From January 2003 he represented the Book division within the executive board of the Douglas Group. From September 2012 to March 2015 he was an executive board member of Douglas Holding AG. After Thalia’s separation from Douglas Holding AG Michael Busch remains CEO of Thalia Bücher GmbH. In 2016 after acquiring Thalia together with three partners he has additionally become the Managing Partner.
This was one of the presentations at Readmagine / Digital Publishing Summit. Readmagine 2020 managed to adapt to the impossibility of bringing the participants together at Casa del Lector as in previous editions through a collaboration and digitization strategy. This organization along with Digital Publishing Summit adapted to the difficulties that arose for a physical event during the first wave of Covid-19 for a meeting very much based on the interaction of some professionals with others at the very beginning of June. The bet that involved quite a few risks has catapulted Readmagine as a global event, which during these days is bringing together 550 professionals from the international publishing industry.