Skip to main content

In September 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the 2019 annual accounts of Waterstones Booksellers. According to this, the highest paid director received payments totalling £1,736,000. Ethical Consumer considered payments over £1 million to be excessive. Waterstones therefore lost a mark under Anti-Social Finance.


Generic Ref 2021 (19 February 2021)

In September 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on The Times website dated January 2021 which stated that "The British division of one of America’s leading activist hedge funds paid its staff in London more than £93 million after recording a rise in annual profits and revenues."
"Its 107 employees shared £93.3 million in pay", it said, and captioned a photo with "The highest-paid director is thought to be Gordon Singer, son of the fund’s founder, who took home £8.9 million".
Ethical Consumer considered annual pay over £1m to be excessive. The company lost half a mark under Anti Social Finance.


Elliott staff paid £93m (6 September 2021)

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.


Generic Hoovers ref (5 January 2021)

In September 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Financial Times website dated October 2020 that stated that Elliott Management was moving its headquarters from New York to Florida, and that "
Florida has increasingly become an attractive base for money managers as it does not have a state income tax. Residents of New York City face both state and city income tax."
The company therefore lost half a mark in the Tax Conduct category for likely tax avoidance strategies.


Moves HQ to Florida (6 September 2021)