ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Sprout, Inc., a digital book wholesaler, and Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP), the leading global retailer of books, music and video, announced a strategic alliance today to advance Sprout's print-on-demand capabilities and ultimately to introduce the service to Borders customers. Specifically, Borders will acquire a minority interest in Sprout and will install Sprout's digital, on-demand book production facility in Borders' LaVergne, Tenn., fulfillment center, which services Borders.com and stores. Borders expects its fulfillment center to source from Sprout's digital warehouse of publisher's content. Borders also plans to work with Sprout and publishers to expand the Sprout title database. "Service and selection have always been Borders customer service hallmarks," said Rick Vanzura, President of Borders Online. "We believe Sprout's advanced technology will greatly enhance the customer experience in both of these critical areas." The Sprout method of distribution will ultimately increase the number of titles that are immediately available for sale while also providing publishers an alternative way to produce and distribute books. Sprout plans to actively market its service to other retailers and book publishers. "This is a revolutionary new way of selling books," said Pat Brannan, Sprout's CEO. "Our technology should help eliminate the availability and returns problems that have plagued this industry. "Borders' obvious strengths -- great stores, an expanding online business, and a history of innovation -- will help move this technology into the mainstream, and give Borders the ability in the future to offer its customers an unlimited on-demand selection," Brannan said. Sprout, Inc., is a digital wholesaler located in Atlanta, GA, which services book publishers and retailers. The Sprout system provides single-copy production of perfect-bound, paperback books in central and in-store production facilities after it has been sold to the end consumer. Sprout stores publishers' book content, and distributes that content digitally to enable production of books on demand for retailers in a just-in-time manner. This method reduces the cost of storing and shipping books for publishers and retailers, lowers the threshold for keeping slow-moving titles in print, increases the in-store exposure of titles not already on the shelf, and eliminates the risk of returns. Borders Group, Inc., is a leading global retailer of books, music, video and other information and entertainment items with stores in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders Group, Inc., is the parent company of Borders, Inc., which operates over 260 Borders Books and Music stores in the United States, offering what is widely regarded as the broadest selection of books and multi-media titles available to consumers anywhere. It is also the parent of Borders.com, an electronic commerce site that has access to over 650,000 titles and over 10 million books, music and video items in stock and ready for immediate shipping from a state-of-the-art fulfillment and distribution center. With cafe operations in nearly all of its stores, Borders, Inc., is one of the nation's largest specialty coffee retailers. Through Borders (UK) Limited, Borders Group, Inc., also operates 26 Books etc. and three Borders stores in the U.K. In addition, Borders Group, Inc., owns Walden Book Company, Inc., which has approximately 900 Waldenbooks stores in malls, shopping centers and airports across the country. Borders Group, Inc., trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "BGP." To learn more about the company, visit http://www.bordersgroupinc.com . For information on Borders stores, visit http://www.bordersstores.com . For the ultimate online book, music and video shopping experience, explore http://www.borders.com . Safe Harbor Statement This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. One can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as "expects," "plans," "will," "estimates," "forecasts," "guidance," "projects," "initiatives," and other words of similar meaning. One can also identify them by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. These statements are likely to address the Company's growth strategy, financial performance (including sales and earnings guidance), marketing and expansion plans, Y2K compliance and similar matters. The Company has identified certain risk factors which could cause actual results and plans to differ substantially from those included in the forward looking statements. These factors are discussed in Exhibit 99.1 to the Company's Form 10-K Report for the fiscal year ended January 24, 1999, and that discussion regarding risk factors is incorporated herein by reference. The Company does not undertake any obligation to update forward looking statements. Information: For general information, including copies of this or other reports, please fax or mail your request to the attention of the Investor Relations Dept.; Fax 734-477- 4538; 100 Phoenix Drive; Ann Arbor, MI 48108. Information can also be obtained via the internet by visiting the Borders web site at http://www.bordersgroupinc.com or via fax by calling Company News On-Call at 800-758-5804, ext. 106169.
SOURCE Borders Group, Inc.