The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited


The Fitness Programme was established by the BA’s Independent Booksellers Forum to help independent booksellers could gain more insight into their business and improve their business performance. In complete confidence, participating bookshops provide data on key fitness indicators such as trading space, opening hours, staff numbers, turnover, margins and overheads. The average and best performance for each measure is calculated.

What is the IBF Fitness Programme?

The IBF Fitness Programme is a FREE, confidential service, provided by Nielsen Book Research on behalf of the BA. The Programme will help you to review areas such as staff costs and product sales, to compare overhead breakdowns and to enhance your business strategies by identifying key areas of growth across the sector. Previous participants tell us that they have benefited hugely from the programme with many using it to negotiate better deals with bank managers and suppliers.
“The comparison that we get from shops of a similar size to us is invaluable in guiding us to areas that appear to require improvement. Each year provides us with new areas to focus on.”
Steve Lawson, Nantwich Bookshop

How can the IBF Fitness Programme help my bookshop?

Past participants have used the findings to:
  • Benchmark their 'fitness' against the sector.
  • Identify key areas of growth across the sector.
  • Highlight key areas for improvement.
  • Drive business strategies.
  • Negotiate better deals with suppliers and bank managers.
  • Review staff costs.

Click here to read a bookseller case study.
“The Fitness Programme provides you with solid statistics for when contracts need to be switched or re-negotiated.”
Debbie James, Kibworth Books

What do I get from the IBF Fitness Programme?

  • - You receive a report on the independent sector which helps highlight the areas of your business which need attention.
  • You receive a personalised report with constructive, actionable data. The report will show how you compare against the average and best performer for all participating bookshops and for bookshops of a similar size and type to you. The report looks at a variety of measures including sales growth, sales per square metre, stock turn, margins and overheads. 
  • In conjunction with the Unwin Charitable Trust Mentoring Programme, you have free access to a mentor who can help you interpret the reports and offer professional advice on your business development plans. Visit or email Margaret Wilson for further details.
  • “It shakes you out of any complacency when you see how other shops are doing.”
    Kevin Ramage, The Watermill Bookshop

What information do I have to provide and how?

Figures are required on turnover, margin, overheads, opening hours, staff numbers and trading space.
Source the information from your management accounts, your EPOS system and/or your annual accounts.

Note: the survey asks for both your latest and previous year figures, but in following years you will only need to update with figures for a single year. If you have participated in the past, Steve Bohme can send you a pre-populated template with your last submitted data figures included – if you would like it sent to you, please just let us know. 
“It doesn't actually take too long to fill in: I can't think of a single reason not to do it!"
Debbie James, Kibworth Books

How can I take part?

Participation is completely FREE and confidential. We warmly encourage all UK independent members to take part.

Contact Pippa Halpin at the BA to express interest or to register as a participant.
- Then complete this survey spreadsheet and email it to Steve Bohme at Nielsen Book Research, by 31st May 2019.