Bonnier turnover reaches £115m after Weldon Owen US absorption

Bonnier turnover reaches £115m after Weldon Owen US absorption

Weldon Owen US, an illustrated non-fiction publisher, has become a part of Bonnier Publishing in the UK, pushing its annual turnover past the £115m mark.

Weldon Owen US publishes illustrated, non-fiction adult books for brands including The Body Shop, Hallmark, Popular Science, Popular Photography, Outdoor Life, Cycle World, Parenting, and The Walt Disney Family Foundation.

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 now takes the company to £115m turnover-a-year, it said. Weldon Owen US's turnover is currently $17m a year (£11.7m). The move also helps Bonnier Publishing push further into the US market.

Weldon Owen was founded in Sydney, Australia, in 1984 by Kevin Weldon and John Owen. In 2006, the company was acquired by Bonnier AB, a family-owned media group based in Sweden and then split into two constituent parts - Weldon Owen Publishing became part of the UK-based Bonnier Publishing Ltd, while Weldon Owen International became part of Bonnier Corporation (USA), operating from San Francisco, USA. It is the latter company which has now been folded under the Bonnier UK umbrella. Weldon Owen will continue to remain at its offices in San Francisco, California.

Johnson said: “As we move more into the US market, it makes strategic sense for Bonnier AB to combine its book businesses under one umbrella. Weldon Owen is a great business with a highly-respected list – everybody here is really excited that they’re joining us and looks forward to welcoming Roger and his team into the fold.”

Roger Shaw, president of Weldon Owen US, said Johnson and the leadership team at Bonnier UK had created a “dynamic force in British publishing in recent years” and he was “looking forward to building on the strong momentum there.”

“Our list complements Bonnier Publishing's existing portfolio and with our current success in the market here, we're well positioned to assist Bonnier realise its growth objectives in North America,” Shaw said. He added that the company had “significantly” boosted its profits over the past couple of years and was confident it could harness the benefits of being a part of “one of the most energetic teams in contemporary publishing”.

Weldon Owen US will continue its program of magazine-branded books. Bonnier Publishing also owns children’s publisher little bee books, based in New York City.

Bonnier UK has seen rapid expansion over the past three years, acquiring several companies, including Igloo Books, and starting new imprints. In an interview with The Bookseller last year, Johnson said: “We have started so many new things, even if I put my feet up for the next 18 months and did nothing else, the group would grow 15%–20% as the start–ups begin to really build through.”  At the time, he also added: “Probably over 80% of employees [based] in the UK” were not in the group 18 months ago.