New Holland hit by more redundancies

New Holland hit by more redundancies

Illustrated publisher New Holland has undergone its third round of redundancies in four years, with nearly half the company’s UK staff leaving the publisher, including its managing director.

Eleven employees (out of 24 in the UK) will leave the business on 28th October, with m.d. Steve Connolly to leave in December. Connolly said: “Effectively the UK trade side of the business is continuing to shrink. The coedition and non-trade market is growing quite significantly, but that is not compensating enough for the drop in trade sales. Looking at the next two years, we couldn’t see any reason it would get any better very quickly. We thought it better to manage operational costs, so it has a smaller publishing plan and is more coedition driven.”

He added: “The UK high street is not only down, but it is very erratic—it is very hard to plan a stable business when you don’t have a reliable revenue stream.”

He said the coedition sales team—comprising five full-time and two freelance staff members—would remain unaffected, but the main losses would be within the production, design and editorial teams. He said the work of these departments, for the publisher’s general interest and international travel list, will now be handled in-house at New Holland Australia, “which will hopefully give better economy of scale”.

The company is owned by South Africa media company Avusa, and Connolly will be moving to Cape Town to become m.d. of fellow Avusa company Random House Struik, where he will succeed Stephen Johnson, who is retiring.

Meanwhile, the remaining staff at New Holland UK will report to New Holland Publishers Australia m.d. Fiona Schultz, who will be responsible for the company’s international business from its Sydney office.

Connolly said the company has been reviewing which titles it will publish in 2012. He said: “We will still be publishing books in lifestyle and natural history. The natural history list is up, but lifestyle, travel, and business are all down. Looking at 2012, there are some titles that may still come out. The large proportion of them will still be going full steam ahead, and some have even been brought forward.” He said frontlist commissioning for the UK company will drop from about 60 titles annually to around 25 to 30 books a year.

He added: “We have just completed the consultation cycle. It has been a very painful process. It was felt it was better to take those decisions now, and look ahead.” This restructuring follows two additional rounds of redundancies in 2008 and 2010.