Barnsley to leave HarperCollins

HarperCollins UK and International c.e.o. and publisher Victoria Barnsley is to leave the company after 13 years. She is to be succeeded by Charlie Redmayne, formerly chief digital officer of HarperCollins who left to become chief executive of Pottermore in October 2011.

Barnsley's decision comes after a restructure of the company's international businesses. The management of HarperCollins Australia, HarperCollins New Zealand and HarperCollins India will be transferred from the UK to the US, where they will now report directly to Brian Murray, president and c.e.o. of HarperCollins Worldwide.

Barnsley said: “I’ve always wanted to time my departure so that I could leave the company at the right moment and in the best possible shape. Now is that time. HarperCollins is about to embark on a new chapter of its long history as part of the new News Corp, and I'm more than confident that its very talented teams, working with our best-in-class authors, will continue to go from strength to strength."

She added: "I know they will continue to show the drive, creativity and new thinking that last year secured us the much-coveted Publisher of the Year title in the UK. As the judges commented at the time: ‘We have never seen HarperCollins quite so rounded as it is now—it is a company firing on all cylinders."

Barnsley, who told staff today (2nd July), is to leave at the end of the week; Redmayne will take up his role on 5th August.

Redmayne will report direct to Murray. Murray said: "Charlie’s experience and success operating at the leading edge of publishing makes him uniquely qualified to lead HarperCollins UK in this time of tremendous digital  opportunity," said Murray. Redmayne added: "HarperCollins UK has some of the best publishers and editors in the industry – and over the last few years has invested in new skillsets to support those editors, producing a tremendous publishing business."

Barnsley was appointed c.e.o. and publisher of HarperCollins UK in July 2000, after HC had acquired her independent publishing business Fourth Estate. In 2008 she took on the role of c.e.o. and publisher of both HarperCollins UK and International.

Murray said: "Vicky has made many wonderful contributions to HarperCollins UK and International. She has run a successful publishing program, including winning hundreds of literary prizes, and significantly enhanced the company's digital efforts. We are grateful for her contributions and wish her well on our future endeavours."

According to sources within HarperCollins UK, Barnsley's decision was precipitated by the decision to remove her international responsibilities, with staff taken aback by the suddenness of her departure. Murray is not currently in the UK.

One HC staffer said: "I'm gutted to see Vicky go but it's a time of change and we plough forward. It's great that the new c.e.o. [Charlie Redmayne] is somebody we know, and is at the forefront of everything in digital—it means there's a sense of continuity, he knows our overall strategic aims." Another said: "We’re all in shock - It’s pretty emotional here, the news came as a massive surprise and Victoria Barnsley is a legend."

Neil Blair, JK Rowling's agent and co-founder of Pottermore, said of Charlie Redmayne's departure: "We'd like to thank Charlie for his great work on Pottermore. As it enters an exciting new phase of development, with the support of primary partner Sony, and also of Warner Bros, Pottermore is in great shape, with a robust in-house team in place, and CTO Julian Thomas at the helm in the transition process. 

"We are now in the process of recruiting a new CEO to lead the project into the future."

Redmayne added: "Steering Pottermore through such a ground-breaking time in its development has been a great experience, and I am proud of what we have achieved.  We have built up a brilliant in-house team at Pottermore, and I know I am leaving it in the best possible hands. I am excited for its future under new leadership, where it will continue to push the boundaries of digital publishing."

Business profile: Charlie Redmayne and Pottermore

Deputy editor's blog: A Troubling Week