The country’s largest Australian-owned and operated book retailer, QBD Books, has been named as one of Australia’s Best Managed Companies for 2023, at a recent ceremony in Sydney.

Deloitte Australia’s Best Managed Companies program recognises privately held companies for organisational success and achievement, allowing them to benchmark against some of the best private companies in the world.

Established in Canada in 1993, the Best Managed Companies program has become the most significant business award of its kind, with the program running in 48 countries across the Americas, Europe, Australasia, and Africa.

The program is built around four pillars – Strategy, Capabilities and Innovation, Culture and Commitment, and Governance and Financials – and in each area, applicant companies are carefully evaluated by a panel of independent judges.

The award is a fitting recognition of the growth of QBD as a company, according to CEO, Nick Croydon.

“When we bought QBD in October 2016, the company had a network of 55 stores, and I’m proud to say that in the last eight years we’ve been able to grow that to 88 stores, as we continue on our mission to reach 100 stores,” he said.

“Our industry is worth around $1.7 billion and supports over 10,000 jobs, but at the same time, there’s no question that traditional bricks and mortar bookstores are facing challenges, with nearly half of all stores closing in the last 10 years. That’s why it’s so humbling and validating to receive this award from Deloitte, among such impressive fellow nominees, as it shows we’re on the right trajectory and people are taking notice.”

Looking to the future, Croydon believes diversification and new technology has become an increasingly important factor to remain relevant.

“QBD Books has a long and proud history of integrating with technology. From our earliest days, we have invested heavily in custom development resources and it has led to positive results with increased engagement and improved efficiency,” he added.

“It is increasingly hard to ignore the growing trend towards AI now, especially in our industry. We are approaching AI with cautious optimism, and have identified several potential areas where we may look to integrate it from computing data driven personalised recommendations for better customer interactions to conducting market trend analysis and replenishing inventory more efficiently.”

Croydon also flagged further investment in QBD bookstores nationally, with further openings planned across Australia throughout 2024, in addition to the expansion and refurbishment of stores across its network.