WATERSTONES has been accused of breaking a pledge not to take on independent book sellers after it emerged it is to open up a new shop in Stockbridge.

The chain store is to expand its presence in Edinburgh by opening a new outlet in the upmarket district, which is already served by a privately-owed bookshop.

However, it has been suggested that the new store will not be branded as a Waterstones shop, but will be named 'Stockbridge Books', in line with the company's policy regarding its new, smaller range of shops.

This apparently flies in the face of comments made last year by the Waterstones chief executive, James Daunt, who said of the new stores: “They are very small shops in towns that had independents and very much wish they still had independents but don’t.” 

Julie Danskin, the manager of Stockbridge's resident independent bookseller Golden Hare Books, said it was disappointing the area had been picked as the next location for Waterstones.

 She said: "We were quite shocked when we heard they were going to call themselves Stockbridge Books, because that was the name of a bookshop which used to be here.

"Stockbridge high street has a very independent feel to it, but it will only stay that way if there's no homogenisation of the shops available with big chains moving in.

"The community like the independent shops and won't be impressed by Waterstones pretending to be something else. They like to call a spade a spade." 

Waterstones has opened a number of stores under different names in other parts of the UK, sparking accusations that they are posing as independent bookshops to avoid the backlash against the homogenisation of Britain’s high streets.

Named after the towns in which they are based, the Southwold Bookshop was the first to open in summer 2014; it was followed by others in towns including Rye and Harpenden. The owner’s true identity has not been immediately apparent, save for clues such as handwritten notices in windows.

The Waterstones venture in Edinburgh will be in Raeburn Place, a new development in a largely affluent area close to Edinburgh city centre.

Ms Danskin said that she hoped the public would continue to back Golden Hare books, which was recently shortlisted for the Children's Bookseller of the Year  and Independent Bookshop of the Year industry awards, over its new rival,.

She said: "We hope it's not going to have too great an affect on our business and that there's enough room in Stockbridge for both of us. 

"We have managed to exist alongside the charity bookshop and the flagship Waterstones that's just up the road. 

"And the local community are very independently-minded and we hope they continue to choose us, as long as we give them a reason to keep choosing us."

Calling for public support to take on Waterstones, Golden Hare Books tweeted: “We love being part of our community, Stockbridge, and want to be there for many years to come. Only you can help us do this. If you do, Waterstones cannot hurt us. Please choose to shop indie.”

Mr Daunt was quoted in the Bookseller as saying the firm had “long wished” to have a presence in Stockbridge, which has a large Waterstones branch in Princes Street.

He said: “It will be a tad smaller than our Princes Street flagship and, like every good bookshop, will draw its personality from its community and neighbouring shops. In consequence, we will be calling it Stockbridge Books and look forward greatly to its opening.”No-one was available from Waterstones to comment.