Dunn latest to leave Bonnier Publishing as shake-up continues

Dunn latest to leave Bonnier Publishing as shake-up continues

Ben Dunn is the latest senior figure to leave Bonnier Publishing after resigning as managing director of its Kings Road Publishing imprint with immediate effect.

His resignation follows hot on the heels of Mark Smith, whose departure as chief executive of Bonnier Zaffre was announced on Monday (16th July) and Sharon Parker, Bonnier Publishing's group chief operating officer, who vacated her role after 20 years with the company last month. The three departures follow not long after the swift exit of group c.e.o. Richard Johnson who left in February after nine years at the helm.

After moving from Century where his experience was in commercial non-fiction and celebrity memoirs, at Kings Road and its imprint Blink, Dunn splashed big money on celebrity acquisitions such as the authorised biography of the pop star Robbie Williams in 2016, while Lily Allen’s memoir, set to publish this autumn, was won after auction last year. These signings followed deals for the autobiographies of Take That's Gary Barlow in a pre-emptive bid and The Who's frontman Roger Daltrey after a nine-way auction.

Blink reportedly paid seven figures for Robbie Williams: Reveal, the second authorised biography the pop star has done with Chris Heath. If so, Blink was perhaps looking for a greater return on investment than the 83,000 hardcover copies the title has sold through Nielsen BookScan for £791,000 last autumn (the paperback has added another £38,000 since being published at the end of May). By contrast, the first Williams/Heath collaboration, Feel (Ebury) has sold nearly £5.6m in all editions since its 2004 release.  

However, Jim Zetterlund, who was parachuted in as Johnson’s replacement from parent company Bonnier Books in Sweden, also said at the time he took over that he wanted the company to focus on narrative non-fiction and fiction.

The company is not replacing Dunn “at the moment” while it concentrates on its wider strategic transformation under Zetterlund. At the time he took charge at the company, financial accounts released earlier in the month had revealed Bonnier Publishing had “wrestled with profitability problems” as the result of rapid growth in 2017, an issue which had had a “strong negative effect” on the financial results of its Swedish parent company Bonnier Books.

Dunn said he had “loved” his two and a half years at Bonnier Publishing, “some great books and some even better people; I’ll miss them all, but I have decided to take a new step in my professional life,” he said.

Meanwhile Perminder Mann, c.e.o. of Bonnier Publishing UK, paid tribute to Dunn for helping to reposition Blink “from a niche imprint to a well-respected publisher of multiple genres”.

“Ben has had a great impact on the business; successfully steering the development of our five adult and children’s imprints based in Chelsea,” Mann said. “Ben’s passion and enthusiasm will be greatly missed and I wish him all the best for his future career.”