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Indigo planning to open stores outside of Canada in next two years

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TORONTO - Indigo Books & Music Inc. (TSX:IDG) is looking to expand outside Canada in the hope that opening new stores elsewhere could help deliver stronger results across its broadening range of products.

Chief executive Heather Reisman said Tuesday that the company plans to launch brick and mortar stores outside of the country in about two years, though she declined to say which markets the retailer is considering.

The book seller has been trying to boost its profitability by stocking more high-margin products, such as gifts, toys and lifestyle items, in effort to adapt to shifting consumer trends, a plan that will expand to a rebranding of some sections of its stores.

Indigo said it will revamp many of its large format stores to fall in line with the growing popularity of the store-within-a-store concept at many other retailers. The plan would draw attention to its existing Indigo Kids brand, as well as new labels like Indigo Tech and Indigo Home.

"The new physical format store will feel like you can meander through a series of shops, each one anchored by books," said Reisman.

Indigo has also partnered with Apple and will begin selling products such as iPads and Apple TV in 40 stores in 2014.

Booksellers have been struggling lately as consumers shift from physical books and more towards digital reading.

U.S. retailer Barnes & Noble reported Monday that its loss more than doubled in the latest quarter as its Nook e-book reader unit continued losing money and sales plummeted at its bookstores.

And Indigo recorded an $8.2-million loss for the quarter ended March 30, compared with a profit of $125 million a year ago when the company sold its stake in Kobo Inc. to Rakuten.

Ebook sales made up 15 per cent of the of the overall book market in Canada in 2012, according to a report by BookNet Canada.

However, Reisman said books will continue to be the cornerstone of Indigo's business.

"Books will remain at the heart and soul of this company, and as long as there are people on the planet who want to buy physical books, we are deeply committed to physical books, both in store and online," she said.

Indigo operates under several banners including Indigo Books, Chapters, the World's Biggest Bookstore and Coles.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly characterized the store-within-a-store concept.

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