In June 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Waterstone’s family tree on the Hoovers corporate database. This showed that Book Retail Holdco Limited, the ultimate parent company of Waterstones, was based in Jersey. Waterstones also had an ordinary subsidiary in Ireland “Waterstones Booksellers Ireland Limited”.
Both countries are jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing.
An internet search using the search terms “Waterstones tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes, nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and how it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.
Given that Waterstones’ UHC, Book Retail Holdco Limited, was in a jurisdiction on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and Waterstones had no country-by-country financial information, nor an adequate policy statement or narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under Tax Conduct.