Bonnier’s group sales, marketing and publicity director James Horobin is leaving the firm to join his old boss Mark Smith at his new venture Welbeck Publishing Group.
Horobin, who helped build the Zaffre brand from its early days, will join Welbeck towards the end of this year in the same role to lead the company’s UK trade and export teams across all imprints.
The new firm, announced in April with the acquisition of Carlton Books, is led by ex-Zaffre c.e.o. Smith and former Quarto c.e.o Marcus Leaver. The company has promised a substantial trade programme in 2020 covering children’s, commercial fiction and both narrative and illustrated non-fiction. Horobin’s appointment was key, Smith said, to becoming a fully-formed trade publisher operating on a large scale.
He said: “I hope we’ve made it quite clear that Marcus and I have big ambitions for Welbeck and that starts with bringing the best people possible into the business. Having worked with James at Zaffre, he was instrumental in helping me get that off the ground and building it into the business it became.”
“James Horobin is a one of a kind sales, marketing and publicity professional who is completely in synch with authors, retailers and readers," he added. "Marcus and I are truly delighted that James has decided to join the Welbeck team to help us fine tune our illustrated non-fiction offering, to build our children’s, commercial fiction and narrative non-fiction imprints, and to expand our footprint around the world to create a global readership for our authors.”
Horobin joined Zaffre shortly after it was formed in 2015, building its sales, marketing and publicity team from scratch. At the end of 2018, he took on responsibility across the whole trade group. Prior to his stint at Bonnier, Horobin worked for both Simon & Schuster and Headline.
He said: “The opportunity to work with Mark again is one I couldn’t turn down. I’ve enjoyed Mark’s entrepreneurial approach to publishing and experienced just how effective it is. I’m also really looking forward to working with Marcus and of course, to the challenge of playing my part in helping Welbeck realise its ambitions.
“Building Zaffre from the ground up was a hugely exciting experience and I’m so proud of the brilliant team and everything we achieved together. Recently becoming involved with the trade division at Kings Road and restructuring the sales teams, has also been a very rewarding experience. The Bonnier Books trade team is full of amazingly talented people and the publishing list for this year and into 2020 is looking fantastic.”
Perminder Mann, c.e.o of Bonnier Books UK, added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to James for his hard work and dedication over the last four years. He has played a key role in the development and growth of Zaffre and, more recently, the wider trade business and will be missed. As our trade publishing continues to go from strength to strength, I wish him all the very best with this fresh challenge.”
The hiring of Horobin follows this month’s announcement that Jon Elek would become group publisher for Welbeck’s commercial fiction imprint Portland Press. Wayne Davies and Alex Allan are also joining as group publishers in its Carlton Books division.