Penguin Random House UK is to create a single children's division, bringing together Penguin Children's and Random House Children's Publishers.
Francesca Dow [above right], previously m.d. of Penguin Children's, is to be the m.d. of the new division, reporting to Penguin Random House UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon. Philippa Dickinson [above left], currently m.d. of Random House Children's Publishers, is to take on the new role of consultant children's publisher "with specific editorial responsibility for key projects and authors", before retiring in March next year.
The company said there were no current plans to co-locate the two divisions, though a spokesperson said that the "ideal situation" would be to bring them under one roof.
Weldon said: "We passionately believe in children’s publishing and plan to invest significantly in this area over the next few years. We are determined to capture the readers of tomorrow. We believe that having one really brilliant and dynamic children’s division will allow us to compete even more effectively on behalf of all our authors, illustrators and licensing partners for the attention of young readers in an environment which now offers them an unlimited choice of entertainment and information.”
He added: “I feel very fortunate that we will continue to benefit from Philippa’s incredible publishing prowess, passion and commitment over the next 14 months. During the last 28 years, she has led first Transworld Children’s and then RHCP to great success. She and her team work with authors of enduring quality - such as Jacqueline Wilson, Terry Pratchett, Malorie Blackman, and Shirley Hughes - and then publish them successfully over a long period of time. They are also proud to be the publishers of five of the eight children’s laureates. They have great success with modern crossover classics such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Book Thief, The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas and Wonder and they foster new talent such as McFly’s Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter’s The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet and Simon Mayo’s Itch series. “
Of Dow's new role, Weldon said: "I am very excited that we will have Francesca as the MD of our new children’s division. In just three years Francesca has transformed children’s publishing at Penguin, growing sales by 20%, championing new talent and creating huge bestsellers like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, reinventing classics for tomorrow through highly innovative publishing and marketing of much loved brands from Eric Carle to Roald Dahl, broadening Penguin’s portfolio to include new licensing properties such as Peppa Pig and Skylanders, and making bold and ambitious IP investments from acquiring all rights to The Snowman to creating new animation for Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit.
“I look forward to our new division being a brilliant and vibrant children’s publisher. This is such an important part of our business and through it we are literally investing in our future.”
Dickinson said she had been discussing succession plans to allow her to retire in 2015 ahead of the Penguin Random House merger, and so was "delighted" to be welcoming Dow into her new role. “Combining the teams’ complementary strengths will create a vibrant future, rich with opportunities for our authors and our readers. I am looking forward to playing a part in the future success of children's publishing at Penguin Random House," she said.
Dow said: "What a privilege and opportunity this is for us all: to play to the riches and strengths of both these amazing businesses. And for me especially, as m.d. of the new Penguin Random House Children's division, publishing the world's favourite and most successful authors and brands. I look forward enormously to working with Philippa and bringing our talented teams together to build this fantastic creative powerhouse.
“Our audience - the children - and our authors and creative talent will remain where they've always been, at the heart of what we do. We will take risks on talent and invest in children's IP, both classic and new, as we continue our evolution into the first, best and newest kind of children's publisher.”
On wheter the two divisions would co-locate, a PRH spokesman said that the ideal situation would be to bring the two divisions under one roof, but added that the company recognised the complexity of such a move and said no decisions had been made.