Jonathan Ball Publishers has bought indie Icon Books, in a move that will see representatives from both companies form the management team.
JBP, a subsidiary of South African media conglomerate Media 24, purchased the company for an undisclosed sum, with plans to phase in an expansion process in the future, and retain all staff.
JBP will assume management on 1st April, with c.e.o. Eugene Ashton becoming chairman of Icon Books. Icon managing director Philip Cotterell will be the c.e.o. under the new ownership arrangements.
Ashton said: “JBP has for many years wanted to expand our publishing and grow into markets beyond southern Africa. Icon Books is a company that we have long admired – they publish superb books with a tremendous independent character and are an ideal fit.
"The business is well managed and has a proud track record. I look forward to working with the team and publishing many more books in the future.”
Founded in 1976, JBP specialises in South African history, politics and current affairs, and also publishes and distributes fiction.
Cotterell commented: “Having worked with JBP as Icon’s South African agent for a number of years, we know each other well and we are delighted that Icon/JBP has the firm foundation to substantially build on the achievements of recent years.”
Icon Books was founded in 1991 by Peter Pugh, who died last year, aged 76. The non-fiction publisher is a member of the Independent Alliance, and features titles across popular science, history, psychology and current affairs.
Last year's bestseller, 100 Years of Leeds United 1919-2019 by Daniel Chapman sold 12,091 copies.
The company sold a total of 146,000 books for just under £1.3m in 2019, representing a 10% drop in volume and a 2.6% decline in value year on year.