Canada’s Indigo Bookstore Chain Agrees to a Buyout Offer

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The buyout offer is expected to close in June, when Indigo will be removed from Toronto’s stock market, the company going private.

An Indigo Books & Music location at Toronto Eaton Centre, one of Canada’s largest retail hubs. Image: Raysonho, CC0

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Dohle: ‘A Cherished Canadian Brand’
Today’s news (April 3) of a buyout for the troubled Canadian Indigo Books & Music chain is being termed a fair offer from Trilogy Investments and Trilogy Retail Holdings by Markus Dohle. Since last year, Dohle has been a member of the company’s board and is chairing a special committee charged with handling the sale.

As described in today’s communications with the news media, the deal means that the company’s minority shareholders will receive CA$2.50 per share (US$1.85), which is some 69 percent above the company’s closing price on February 1 of CA$1.48 and a premium of some 56 percent above Indigo’s 20-day volume-weighted average price.

The expectation is that the buyout offer will be ratified by shareholders in May and close in June, subject to court approval, triggering the removal of the stock from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

In its coverage from Toronto, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) carries a Canadian Press report indicated that the “sweetened” cash offer was put forward by a company owned by the spouse of Indigo’s CEO, Heather Riesman. Gerald Schwartz, Reisman’s husband, owns the Trilogy companies

The conclusion of the transaction is subject, the company says, to “a number of conditions customary to transactions of this nature, including, among others: (1) the approval of at least two-thirds of votes cast by the company’s shareholders (including Trilogy, its affiliates, and joint actors) at a special meeting of shareholders; (2) the approval of a simple majority of the votes cast by minority shareholders at such meeting; and (3) court approval.”

Markus Dohle

In his comment on the news today, Dohle, the former worldwide CEO of Penguin Random House, says, “Following careful consideration of a wide variety of factors and negotiations with Trilogy that resulted in a material increase to the price first offered to minority shareholders of Indigo, the special committee has determined that the transaction is in the best interests of Indigo and its minority shareholders.

“Since its inception, Indigo has established itself as a cherished Canadian brand with an important leadership role in the Canadian publishing and bookselling industries.

“We believe that this transaction will provide minority shareholders with a substantial premium for their shares following some challenging years for the business, while also ensuring a strong future for Indigo with full ownership by a team that has demonstrated a deep commitment to Indigo’s mission.”

Recently Reported Company Statistics

Image: Raysonho, CC0

Created in 1977 in Burlington, Ontario, the Indigo Books & Music chain was partly created in 2021 in a merger with Chapters, Inc. In subsequent publicity materials, the company has referred to itself as “the world’s first cultural department store,” eventually with locations in all 10 Canadian provinces.

“We believe that this transaction will provide minority shareholders with a substantial premium for their shares following some challenging years for the business.”Markus Dohle, Indigo Board

“The company also has retail operations in the United States through a wholly-owned subsidiary,” corporate statements say, “operating its first retail store in Short Hills, New Jersey, since October 2018. Headquartered in Toronto, the company employs approximately 5,000 people across Canada.”

Company material says that in December 2023, Indigo Books & Music operated 89 “superstores” under the names Chapters and Indigo, and 83 smaller venues under the names Coles and IndigoSpirit, in addition of course to its digital retail site at indigo.ca, offering “books, ebooks, toys, stationery, home decor, gourmet confections, electronics, and more.” There may be some irony to this information now as at one point, Riesman has said that the company’s provision of non-book products may have contributed to its struggles in recent years.

The company’s large-format stores average more than 22,000 square feet.

One of Indigo’s 80+ smaller-format locations in the IndigoSpirit line, at Kingsway Mall in Edmonton, Alberta. Image: RowanLovesCars, CC BY SA 4.0


More from Publishing Perspectives on bookselling is here, more on mergers and acquisitions is here, and more on the Canadian market is here. More on the work of Markus Dohle is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.