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WH Smith steps in to take over collapsed British Bookshops

Wh Smith has bolstered its high street estate with the acquisition of 22 stores from the administrator of British Bookshops and Stationers.

The retailer said the stores, based across the south of England, will trade under their current name for now. It paid just over £1m for the outlets.

British Bookshops started life in Sussex in 1938 but went into administration in January in a move affecting more than 300 jobs and 51 stores.

It was bought by Irish booksellers Eason and Sons in the 1990s before being sold again in May 2009 to private equity firm Endless.

Recovery firm Zolfo Cooper said it was actively pursuing options for the remaining stores, all of which have remained opened since the administration.

Around 200 workers will transfer to WH Smith in a phased takeover programme beginning on February 22 with shops in Teddington and Southwick.

Cash flow problems coupled with tough trading, particularly due to the bad weather, were blamed for the company's collapse. The firm, based in Hollingbury, Brighton, started life as Sussex Stationers and grew into a regional South East-based chain.

Simon Appell, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: "We are pleased to have been able to safeguard the iconic British Bookshops -amp; Stationers brand through the sale of 22 stores.

WH Smith has around 570 high street stores, while its travel division operates from 516 units, including motorway service areas.