Laurence King Publishing (LKP) has created a new German subsidiary and purchased Amsterdam-based publisher BIS Publishers as part of a “bold” new plan to strengthen its international sales.
Financed by “an extraordinary cash windfall” from the adult colouring book boom which saw LKP’s turnover rocket from £10.9m in 2014 to £35m in 2015, the new Berlin-based subsidiary, Laurence King Verlag, will publish approximately 30 titles from LKP’s list in German each year, and will sell the remainder of LKP’s list in English in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. LKP has appointed Max Erbe, who has previously worked at Ullmann and Phaidon in Germany, as managing director of Laurence King Verlag.
LKP has also acquired the English-language, Dutch design publisher, BIS, with the intent of increasing LKP’s access to the Dutch market, with local sales, distribution and marketing. BIS will continue to run an independent publishing programme overseen by BIS managing director, Bionda Dias. Both Laurence King Verlag and BIS will begin selling LKP’s full list from 1st January 2018.
LKP m.d. Laurence King told The Bookseller that the expansion was part of a bigger plan to treat Northern European territories as home markets, and thereby get "much greater penetration of the market for our titles".
“If you treat Germany as a home English language market, you can reach it far more of the market than you can if you treat it as an export market and you can also greatly strengthen your English language sales”, said King. “That’s very important to us - not just because we wanted to grow because I’ve never actually had any desire to create a bigger company - but it would enable us to do more interesting books.”
King said BIS was “very successful at selling Engish language books in the Netherlands” and the publisher decided to purchase the company to “give us access to treating the Netherlands as a home market, with local distribution, local press, local marketing."
LKP’s expansion into Europe coincides with a new global sales programme, overseen by LKP sales director, Adrian Greenwood, who was appointed earlier this year.
In the UK, for the first time, LKP will bring sales to a selection of national accounts in house, with all other accounts handled by Abrams and Chronicle Books (A&CB). In the rest of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, LKP will be working in partnership with A&CB. In North and South America, LKP continues to be distributed by Chronicle Books. This move marks LKP’s departure from Thames and Hudson, who have sold LKP’s list internationally (outside the Americas) since LKP was founded in 1991.
King said the company is “immensely grateful” for the “wonderful job” Thames & Hudson has done in helping to establish the LKP list, adding: “but now that we have a reached a certain size, it is only natural that we take more of our sales in-house to be as close to our customers as possible.”
Last year, LKP acquired art magazine Elephant, in conjunction with art supply company ColArt.