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Aurelius to bring in BCA 'task force'

The new owner of Book Club Associates intends to bring in a team of industry experts to help turn the business round. Aurelius said the "task force" – probably consisting of around 20 specialists recruited from a range of disciplines from publishing to accounting – would look at all aspects of BCA in order to help it get back into profit.

Ingo Middelmenne, a spokesperson for the Munich-based industrial holding company, told The Bookseller that the turnround process usually takes between 12 and 18 months, but added that Aurelius should know the sort of action to take by mid-February. Until then, he said, ”you will have to be a bit patient”.

Aurelius, which bought BCA from parent Bertelsmann, specialises in buying companies that do not fit with their owner’s core business portfolio and are in a ”turnaround” situation. Middelmenne said: "We think the customer base is very strong in the UK so it should be possible to turn this whole concept into a turnaround to get back into the black next year. So for the customer nothing is going to change."

Middelmenne couldn't make "any promises" with regards to staffing levels. However, he added that in previous takeovers Aurelius has increased as well as decreased staffing levels "it just depends on the specific situation". He added: ”We are not the kind of investor that steps in and cuts 20% of the staff in the first few weeks to cut costs. We are very cautious.”

Middelmenne said he thought there were enough areas in which the company could make cost savings without resorting to job cuts. This might include cutting back on the number of catalogues sent out and making mail-outs more targeted.

Bertelsmann changed its group strategy in September to focus on businesses with strong organic growth, which it said BCA did not have. The change in focus followed the appointment in January of chairman and c.e.o, Hartmut Ostrowski.