News

Relocation of BCA prompts shake-out

A raft of senior management is leaving book club operator BCA as the company settles into its new Swindon home and restructures its clubs for 2008.

Product director Susan van der Schijff, fiction buyer Kate Bradley, chief financial officer Priska Schick and creative and interactive director Lynn Ritson are all leaving because of the move to Swindon.

The Bertelsmann-owned company has also merged its World Books and World of Mystery & Thriller clubs under the new Books Direct brand, bringing its total number of clubs down to seven from eight. Two years ago, under c.e.o. George Saul, BCA cut its clubs back to eight from 20 and laid off more than 60 head office positions in reaction to declining sales.

The new structure will see Claire Rose, who previously ran BCA's children's club BFC, taking over as head of buying. Schick will be succeeded by John Wittington. A replacement is being sought for Bradley. Rose will implement an increase in range for BCA's seven brands, which include a military and aviation club and a fantasy and sci-fi club as well as the new Books Direct. BFC, the fastest-growing club, will also see range increased, and Rose is looking at introducing more age-ranging.

"We're trying to give more of a selection to customers, to make it more of a personal experience," she said. "All the senior management team will be more hands-on, and more involved with day-to-day action."

The new Books Direct has a strong online focus, as BCA looks to become "fleeter of foot and more modern". Books Direct offers a range of adventure novels, thrillers, romance, contemporary fiction, misery memoirs, lifestyle and reference.

Rose was adamant that there is still a place for book clubs. "Especially in the children's market, parents will always want to know what they are buying. That's really our unique selling point—anyone can walk into Tesco and buy a cheap book, but we can do the legwork and offer our customers the best books."

Saul, who joined BCA in 2005, added: "We have a new-look company, in a new location and with some excellent new faces in the team. Altogether there is a lot to feel good about and the overall performance of club members is very encouraging. This follows a year of huge progress for BCA as during 2007 we successfully completed the transition to becoming a one-location company based in wholly-owned headquarters in Swindon, thus reducing operating costs, improving communication and improving profitability."