Bonnier Books has sold Weldon Owen to US illustrated book publisher Insight Editions for an undisclosed sum, with all five UK staff in consultation over redundancy.
Bonnier said the sale of the cookbooks, lifestyle, children’s reference and educational publisher follows a strategic review it carried out last year. The business will operate as Weldon Owen International, a newly formed subsidiary of Insight Editions.
When Bonnier AB bought Sydney-founded Weldon Owen in 2006, Weldon Owen Publishing (mostly specialised in children’s non-fiction and family reference books) became part of Bonnier UK, with its staff moving to London in 2012. Weldon Owen International/Weldon Owen US (largely adults non-fiction, in the areas of lifestyle and food and drink, craft and design) became part of Bonnier Corporation (USA), operating from San Francisco. Although continuing to be based in San Francisco, Weldon Owen US was later absorbed by Bonnier UK in February 2016.
Roger Shaw will remain president and publisher of Weldon Owen San Francisco with c.e.o. Michael Madden who is moving over from Insight Editions, which is also based in San Francisco, to "spearhead the effort of reconnecting the UK operation with the US-based team". John Owen, who co-founded Weldon Owen with Kevin Weldon in Sydney, Australia in 1984, is now set to return to the company with responsibility for the children’s division.
Magnus Brundin, director of Corporate Development of Bonnier Books, said it felt like "a homecoming story" in view of its original co-founder's renewed involvement. Owen said: "I am looking forward to helping Weldon Owen return to its roots by focusing on the children's educational category which has always been a particular passion of mine."
Raoul Goff, Insight’s founder and c.e.o., remarked Weldon Owen was "the perfect complement for Insight's long-standing brand position of providing high-quality products rooted in long-term partnerships", calling the publisher's specialisms "a wonderful fit with Insight’s product offering". He added: "It is exciting to bring the two organisations together to join creative forces and share resources."
According to Insight Editions, the leadership team will be focused on bringing "an innovative and fresh approach" to custom and corporate packaging in the areas of legacy, food and drink, lifestyle, and children’s publishing, as well as expanding to "a greater international market". It will also "sharpen its focus" in the areas of co-editions publishing, packaging, and custom publishing.
Weldon Owen will continue to be distributed by Simon and Schuster and Publishers Group UK.