Bonnier Publishing in US growth push

Bonnier Publishing in US growth push

Bonnier Publishing is launching a new US division, Bonnier Publishing USA, as part of "an ambitious programme for growth" in the territory led by group c.e.o Richard Johnson. The company said it plans to increase revenue from $40m (£30.8m) to $100m (£77m) in the US by the end of 2019.

The new division, announced today (8th August), brings together two of its US-based imprints under one umbrella: start-up publisher Little Bee Books, based in New York, and veteran publisher Weldon Owen US, based in San Francisco, California.

Shimul Tolia, president of children’s imprint Little Bee Books, has been promoted to c.e.o. of Bonnier Publishing USA, while Roger Shaw, publisher of Weldon Owen USA, will continue to lead Bonnier Publishing’s West Coast operations, including its food, drink and lifestyle titles. Shaw will report in to Tolia. 

Little Bee Books began in 2014 and will publish more than 150 titles this year. Non-fiction illustrated publisher Weldon Owen US, founded in 1986, was absorbed by Bonnier Publishing in February from sister company Bonnier Corp, pushing the group’s overall annual turnover past the £115m mark. Bonnier Publishing now intends to grow its US revenue through organic means and by founding start-ups, The Bookseller understands.

Bonnier Publishing USA will establish a new flagship office to "prepare for further growth", relocating Little Bee Books from its current premises at 853 Broadway New York to a larger space at 251 Park Avenue South. The new space will be triple the size of the current office and will act as the division’s headquarters. Weldon Owen US will remain at its offices in San Francisco with marketing and PR staff remaining in the New York City office.

Richard Johnson, group c.e.o. of Bonnier Publishing, said the company had grown rapidly in the UK in recent years and intended to drive the same growth strategy in the USA in the next few years.

"Bonnier Publishing USA, headed by the hugely impressive Shimul Tolia, provides the perfect platform for this," Johnson said. "Our combined US operation currently accounts for $40m (£30.8m) of this and the plan is for growth in the USA to $100m (£77m) by the end of 2019.”

Shimul Tolia, c.e.o., Bonnier Publishing USA, said: “This is an exciting time for us at Bonnier Publishing USA. We launched Little Bee Books in NYC with four employees in 2014 and have grown exponentially in just two years. Including the established Weldon Owen business, we now have a dynamic US company of over 40 employees. Our results over the last year demonstrate a strategy that is working and a strong foundation for growth. We can’t wait to relocate to our new offices in New York City and look forward to bringing more of our books to more people.”

Richard Johnson, c.e.o of Bonnier UK's arm Bonnier Publishing, told The Bookseller in September 2014 the company was on the acquisition trail and sought to rapidly expand to reach the £100m annual turnover mark by 2016 from a turnover of £52m at the time. Following acquisitions of companies such as Igloo Books and the Totally Entwined Group, the absorption of Weldon Owen US into the UK arm in February took the company to £115m turnover-a-year, it said.

Following the UK's vote to leave the Euopean Union,  Johnson said its expansion plans "remain unchanged, though we're likely to now shift where that growth will come from".