Oxford-based Christian publisher Lion Hudson has been sold to a new division of the AFD Group saving the jobs of the 15 remaining staff.
The company went into administration in February with FRP Advisory appointed as administrators. This followed 35 redundancies made at the publisher in January, equating to two thirds of its staff.
While the financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, FRP Advisory said it has now sold the business and assets of Lion Hudson PLC to Lion Hudson Limited (Isle of Man), a newly incorporated company controlled by the AFD Group, a wholly-owned private business with a focus on Christian-related media, software and technology products. The AFD Group is owned David and Alison Dorricott and offers IT delivery and management solutions across the UK.
A spokesperson for FRP Advisory said it had marketed the publisher for sale while ensuring its ongoing trading with authors and its wide range of international publishers and distribution arrangements, “supported by Lion Hudson’s array of loyal, long-serving staff”.
The spokesperson said: “After engaging with a number of parties interested in buying the business as a going concern, the offer from AFD Group provided the most viable solution.”
FRP Advisory’s Nigel Hamilton-Smith, joint administrator, said he was “delighted” with the outcome and described the AFD Group as the “ideal owners”. He said: “This is a great result for a long-standing publishing business with a unique history and offering.
“We are delighted to have helped secure new ownership for the Lion Hudson book publishing business after our six months of trading it through administration, the sale provides the best possible outcome for all involved to safeguard the interests of its authors and another generation of readers both in Britain and across the world.”
He added: “In AFD Group, Lion Hudson has found the ideal owners to take forward the business, the staff and their shared values that have underpinned the journey which continues to bring so much pleasure to everyone involved from authors and agents, to readers and their families.”
Many in the publishing industry had expressed dismay over Lion Hudson’s difficulties. Phil Groom, news editor for UK Christian Bookshops blog, said: “To lose Lion would be a major blow not only for Christian bookselling and publishing but for the entire Christian community."
Lion Hudson had notified authors in January to "an internal reorganisation" in which it moved all of the intellectual property rights of Lion Hudson PLC and its three subsidiary companies (Angus Hudson Limited, Aslan Publishing Services Limited and Candle Books Limited) into one company, Lion Hudson IP Ltd, a directly owned subsidiary of Lion Hudson PLC.
Lion Hudson’s previous m.d, Nick Jones, stepped down in February last year after 35 years with the publisher and was replaced by Suzanne Wilson-Higgins.
Some of Lion Hudson’s former employees launched a new venture spearheaded by Lion Hudson's former head of European sales, Andrew Wormleighton, called Lion Sales Services, which continues to represent Lion Hudson’s five imprints to the UK Christian and book trade.