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Bonnier Publishing to restructure Australian publishing arm; 35 staff redundancies announced

Bonnier Publishing has announced it is restructuring its business in Australia, with the majority of staff at Bonnier Publishing Australia to enter into redundancy consultation.

In a statement released on 27 March, Bonnier Publishing, the publishing arm of Swedish media company Bonnier Group, said the restructure is ‘in response to changing market conditions’.

Titles on the local Echo Publishing lists will be consolidated under the UK imprint Bonnier Zaffre, which is currently distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Allen & Unwin. Echo Publishing commissioning editor Angela Meyer will continue in her role.

Bonnier Publishing said the other 35 staff at Bonnier Publishing Australia will enter into redundancy consultation.

A selection of titles from Bonnier Publishing Australia’s children’s imprint Five Mile is to be acquired by Hardie Grant Egmont. For the remaining Five Mile titles, rights will be reverted to authors, illustrators and licensors.

A spokesperson for Bonnier Publishing in the UK told Books+Publishing the publisher intends to stick to the existing publication dates of the acquired titles ‘wherever possible’ but could not confirm further details around the transition of distribution. ‘All [Five Mile] titles will either be published by us or Hardie Grant, if they are transferred to them in time … All customers will be contacted by the Bonnier Publishing Australia sales teamand interested partiesin the first instance, to work through the detail.’

The spokesperson added that there will be a further announcement on the distribution of Echo titles ‘in due course’ and the Bonnier Publishing Australia sales team will be ‘contacting all customers shortly’ regarding orders and returns.

Tash Besliev, CEO of Bonnier Publishing Australia, said, ‘We are immensely proud of the books we have published and are honoured to have worked with so many talented Australian authors, illustrators and licensors over the past two years. I’m personally very grateful to the incredible team at Bonnier Publishing Australiatrue experts in the field of publishing, selling and marketing books. Our dedication to publishing for Australian families, a group most publishing overlooks, is something I will always be proud to have been a part of.’

Hardie Grant Egmont managing director Annabel Barker said, ‘We are saddened by the Bonnier Australia closure, and particularly the loss of staff. However, we are pleased to be able to take on what is an excellent forward publishing list. We have greatly admired the work of Five Mile, especially over the past two yearsthey have been working with some very talented authors and illustrators.’

In response to reports that a small number of Bonnier employees may transfer to Hardie Grant Egmont, Barker said, ‘We will certainly be needing staff to manage the acquired publishing program, but nothing has been confirmed yet as we work through the details.’

In a statement, Bonnier Publishing group commercial director Julian Shaw said the restructuring was a tough decision and ‘not one that was taken lightly’. ‘While Australia remains an important market for us, it has become an increasingly challenging one and therefore it is necessary to ensure the wider group remains competitive and ready for further growth,’ said Shaw.

‘Tash and her team have shown tremendous commitment and passion in the way they have transformed our publishing in Australia over the past couple of years for which we are incredibly grateful.’

Bonnier Publishing said it will honour ‘all rights and obligations as outlined in its author and illustrator agreements under the Echo Publishing imprint’ and will ‘work with all partners to ensure the smoothest possible transition for author, illustrator and licensor agreements under the Five Mile children’s imprint’.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, Bonnier Publishing acquired a majority stake in children’s imprint Five Mile (formerly The Five Mile Press) in 2004 and completed its purchase in 2007. The publisher launched its local adult imprint, Echo Publishing, in 2015, and closed the Five Mile Press distribution centre in 2016.


Category: Local news