Penguin Random House has acquired 30-year-old children's indie Little Tiger Group for an undisclosed sum.
Little Tiger c.e.o and co-founder Monty Bhatia will continue to run the business as a stand-alone company within PRH, maintaining its publishing autonomy and editorial independence, and remaining in its current London office.
However the Group will report not to PRH UK Children's m.d. Francesca Dow, but to Barbara Marcus (pictured right), president and publisher of Random House Children's Books in the US, who initiated and led the acquisition on behalf of PRH.
Marcus and Bhatia have had "a long-standing, mutually productive publishing relationship", said the joint announcement from PRH and Little Tiger. "Little Tiger will be aligned closely with the Random House Children's Books division that Marcus oversees, and will leverage and benefit from shared resources and support services from Penguin Random House US, such as distribution and fulfillment," the announcement said.
PRH c.e.o. Markus Dohle said: "We are thrilled to welcome Monty Bhatia and the team at Little Tiger Group, a true leader in children's publishing, especially in the preschool area, to the Penguin Random House global family. Little Tiger's unique, nimble and international approach to children's publishing fits perfectly with our business at Penguin Random House, and we look forward to growing together around the world."
Bhatia said: "We have been a family company for over 30 years, but it has been a vision of mine from our earliest founding days that we would take every opportunity to grow and prosper. Being brought into the Penguin Random House fold will enable the Little Tiger Group to elevate our business to the next level, both in the US and internationally.
"Markus and Barbara have offered us a unique opportunity to benefit from the extensive reach and scope of Penguin Random House, while also maintaining our long-standing relationships with customers and the creative and editorial independence that has been so key to our success. I am enormously grateful for their friendship and the trust they have shown in our valued staff, authors, and illustrators."
Marcus said she had long admired Little Tiger's publishing. "In my conversations with Monty over the years, I have gained a tremendous respect for the way in which he has built Little Tiger Group to be agile, responsive to market trends, and entirely creative at its core - from its talented staff, to the authors and illustrators who create the books, and in the way they position them in the marketplace," she said. "The brilliance of Little Tiger's publishing is evidenced by the strength of its sales not only in the US market, but in the UK and around the world. I look forward to working with Monty to build on the amazing company he and his team have established, and to expand the reach and readership of its books."
Little Tiger will maintain the editorial profile of its five imprints, led by publishers Jude Evans and Thomas Truong, and will continue to sell books directly to publishers, retailers and distributors, led by group sales director David Bucknor and director of US sales Barb Knight.
As part of the transaction, PRH has also acquired UK-based packager Liontree Publishing. Liontree will be brought under the Little Tiger Group umbrella, with founder Nik Bhatia taking on a newly created role as its Group Business Development Director.
Sonali Fry, vice president and publishing director for classic brands and preschool at Random House Books for Young Readers will be PRH's liaison to Little Tiger Group.
Little Tiger, founded by Monty and Kuki Bhatia in London in 1987, publishes over 200 new books a year and has a 1000-strong backlist. It has grown an international presence, selling its books around the world, including via its US operation Tiger Tales. Its component imprints are Little Tiger Press, the Group's flagship picture book and board book imprint, which has scored major hits with tites such as I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth and Tim Warnes; Stripes Publishing, focusing on commercial fiction up through teen, as well as highly illustrated chapter book series; Caterpillar Book and Little Tiger Kids, both publishing interactive novelty books; and non-fiction imprint 360 Degrees, launched in 2015.
In 2018 Little Tiger saw a 5.6% value rise through the Nielsen BookScan UK TCM to £1.75m, its highest value since 2013, although volume dropped 2.1%. UK bestsellers through Nielsen during the year included Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey (14,958 copies) and I Love You to the Moon and Back (11,697).
The acquisition deal is set to close on 1st April.