Hachette’s new London headquarters Carmelite House will become a “talent magnet” for authors and publishers, but the move will not compromise competition between the adult divisions, c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson has said.
In an interview with The Bookseller, Hely Hutchinson also addressed the issue of author contracts, and said Hachette UK would continue to buy other businesses, with its children’s division in particular earmarked for growth.
From next week the Hachette companies will begin moving into their new premises on Victoria Embankment, with divisions getting floors instead of buildings – the relocation begins on 10th April when Hodder moves onto the fifth floor; Little, Brown (8th May), Headline (17th April) and Quercus (17th April) are on the fourth; Orion (15th May) and Hachette Children’s (1st May) are on three; Octopus on two (1st May); and Education (24th April) on the ground floor. Hely Hutchinson is one of the first to move, beginning his new corporate life in an open-plan office on 10th April after more than 20 years overlooking the Euston Road.
Hely Hutchinson said the move would help “redefine federalism”, with companies having a dual approach – separate and competitively minded when it comes to authors and books, and corporate when it comes to customers, especially global retailers like Amazon and Apple. “You have to go back to what’s right for the authors,” said Hely Hutchinson. “I believe authors really like the focus of being looked after by their publisher – be that Orion, Hodder or Quercus – and having an editor and a marketing and PR team concentrating on them, with the intimacy that this focus brings. But it is good and reassuring for them that they are allied with a group that can sit at the top table with those big customers.”
And it would also provide “mutual inspiration” for the various Hachette companies, with no suggestion that agents will not continue to be able to submit to individual companies separately. Some changes have already been made ahead of the move, including combining all of Hachette’s individual children’s units into one Hachette Children’s division. Hely Hutchinson said that the individual divisions were too small individually and lacked an “overview”. He said that under the leadership of Hilary Murray Hill the division was looking for growth, both through its publishing programme and by looking to acquire other businesses. “We are looking to grow in both ways. It’s been a strong sector of the market, but it’s an area where we have slightly punched below our weight”.
On authors, Hely Hutchinson said he envisaged different types of author contracts in the future; one low advance, higher royalty, paying more often; another traditional high advance, lower royalty, paying less often. “I’d like to be able to offer those packages and within three years or so we will be able to – if there is demand,” he said.
Hely Hutchinson described the move to Carmelite House as a “big investment” not one aimed at making cost-savings. He said it was made despite an overall market that remained “tough", and one that would continue to consolidate. Hachette UK bought Constable & Robinson, and Quercus in 2014 among others, and Hely Hutchinson added: “I don’t think we could continue growing sales and profits with acquiring . . . it is central to our strategy.”