In a major shake-up of senior management at Orion, David Young is to retire as Orion c.e.o. at the end of this year, followed by major new roles for David Shelley, Katie Espiner, who joins from HarperCollins as Orion's m.d, and Jon Wood. There is promotion too for Charlie King at Little, Brown, but there is no place in the new Hachette regime for current Orion General m.d. Lisa Milton.
Shelley, 39, will become the new Orion c.e.o., taking the role on in addition to his position as c.e.o. of Little, Brown, which which he takes on from 1st July with Ursula Mackenzie moving to the role of chair.
Meanwhile Katie Espiner, 38, currently publisher of The Borough Press and HarperVoyager at HarperCollins, will join Hachette "towards the end of the year" in the role of Orion managing director, reporting to Shelley. Milton will remain in her present role as m.d. of Orion General until Espiner joins the company, and has been asked to act as a consultant for a time after leaving. It is understood that Milton’s role was greatly reduced by the nature of the new structure.
Jon Wood, 41, currently deputy group publisher and m.d. of Orion Fiction, will become publisher of the Orion Publishing Group. Wood will assume his new role as publisher in January 2016, reporting to Espiner. He takes over from Malcolm Edwards, who is stepping down from his roles as deputy c.e.o. and publisher of Orion at the end of this year.
Meanwhile at Little, Brown, Charlie King, currently group marketing, publicity and creative director of Little, Brown, will become Little, Brown m.d. King, 35, will move to his new role, reporting to Shelley, from 1st January 2016.
The announcements come on the same day as Orion Publishing Group moves into the new Hachette UK headquarters on Victoria Embankment – the last of the Hachette UK companies to do so. Clare Harington, group communications director at Hachette, said it was "absolutely not the case" that Orion and Little, Brown were going to be merged. "The whole point of having separate managing directors is to emphasise they’re going to be doing separate things and working separately," she told The Bookseller. She also denied that cost-cutting was a factor in the new structure.
Tim Hely Hutchinson, c.e.o. of Hachette UK, said: “I am absolutely delighted that three of the outstanding publishers of their generation, David Shelley, Katie Espiner and Jon Wood, will lead Orion.
“David Shelley is the perfect successor to David Young. They share much more than just a name; David Shelley has the flair, vision and talent needed to lead Orion and Katie Espiner’s appointment is his first stroke of brilliance. Katie is an exceptional publisher, generally acknowledged, along with David, to be one of the standout talents in our industry. I am also delighted that Jon Wood who, with Malcolm Edwards and the immensely talented Orion editorial team, has been responsible for so many of Orion’s successes, is being promoted to be publisher.
“Lisa Milton has been a tremendous ambassador for Orion, standing behind many of the company’s achievements of the past 12 years. I am enormously grateful to her for the significant role she has played in the development of the company and for all her passionate enthusiasm and peerless management. We will miss her when she eventually steps down from her full-time role, but we have asked her to continue helping us as a consultant.”
Shelley said: “I am hugely excited to have the chance to work with Orion, a company I have admired since I first started in publishing. Fantastic authors, talented publishers and editors, innovative covers, marketing and publicity - it is a company that shines in so many areas. Like many people, I have also admired the work of Katie Espiner for many years and am thrilled to be working with her - and with the brilliant Jon Wood and Malcolm Edwards and their colleagues – on the next phase of Orion’s growth and development as a leader in fiction publishing and an outstanding publisher of non-fiction in its chosen fields.”
Espiner said she had been "so fortunate" to work at HarperCollins and was "extremely proud of The Borough Press and of all the authors I have had the privilege to publish over the years". But the opportunity was too great to pass up, she said. "Hachette has amazing momentum at the moment and I am thrilled to be able to play a role in shaping its future,” she commented.
HarperCollins executive publisher Kate Elton commented: "We are very sad to be saying goodbye to Katie who has been a brilliant publisher and a great colleague. She leaves The Borough Press in a really strong place, with an excellent publishing team and a stellar collection of authors. We wish her every success in her future career and we will be recruiting for a replacement very shortly.”
Wood said it was "a great honour to take over from Malcolm [Edwards]", describing him as "a superb publisher for Orion over his years here and a great mentor, both to me personally and to many in the wider company.”
At Little, Brown, King, who is 35, will move to his new role as m.d. of Little, Brown, reporting to Shelley, from 1st January 2016. Shelley said: “Charlie has the passion, energy and vision necessary to continue successfully Little, Brown's record of innovative, diverse publishing. I am so much looking forward to working with him in his new role - and with the L,B publishing board - to nurture and develop the careers of our authors.”
Young will retire from publishing at the end of 2015, shortly before his 65th birthday. Young started his career in publishing in the UK at Thorsons in 1970, was m.d. of HarperCollins Trade Division UK and c.e.o. of Time Warner Book Group UK before moving to New York to become c.e.o. of Hachette Book Group. In 2013 he moved back to the UK to become c.e.o. of Orion Publishing Group and deputy c.e.o. of Hachette UK.
He said: “I consider myself a lucky man to have spent 45 years in this wonderful business of ours. I've been able to play a part in some truly exciting deals, publications and events as well as some profound changes across that time, and to work alongside some great, great people.
“Working with Arnaud and Tim has been a privilege, and a pleasure. My colleagues at Orion are a brilliant group of people, and I wish them, as well as my colleagues across all the Hachette Livre companies, the best of good fortune in the years ahead.”
Arnaud Nourry, chairman and c.e.o. of Hachette UK’s parent company Hachette Livre said: “For me, one of the great joys of Hachette's acquisition of the Time Warner Book Group was getting to know David. From the very beginning of our working relationship, David was a pleasure to work with. Under his leadership, the newly-created Hachette Book Group quickly grew to be one of the most successful and admired publishing houses in the US, discovering great talent and publishing many wonderful and original books and authors to global success.
“Back in London, David has been a brilliant c.e.o. of Orion, a generous supporter of all his colleagues on the board of Hachette UK and an inspiring chair of Hachette Livre’s Chief Operating Officers’ Council. I want to thank him most warmly for his friendship and support and for his enormous contribution to Hachette Livre worldwide over the last 10 years. I know Hachette Livre will miss David, but, on a personal level, I also know he will remain a close friend.”
Hely Hutchinson said: “David and I have had a wonderfully productive and enjoyable publishing partnership which began the moment Hachette Livre acquired Time Warner Book Group in 2006, thrived during David’s time as c.e.o. of Hachette Book Group and continued happily and successfully when he returned to the UK in 2013 to take over the reins at Orion.
“When David returned to London, he made it clear that we would only have him for a short time. In that time, Orion has gone from strength to strength under his leadership. He re-positioned and re-purposed the company without ever losing sight of its core values: discovering new talent, building careers and publishing bestsellers with renewed passion and panache. In addition to his leadership of Orion, David’s contribution to Hachette UK has been enormous. He has always been a force for good in the company and, most recently, we have him to thank for seeing and recommending our wonderful new offices at Carmelite House.
“Although David’s retirement is still a long way off, I shall be sad to lose the day-to-day companionship and wise counsel of my colleague and friend, but my own feelings of sadness are tempered by the knowledge that David will be leaving Orion at the top its game - with its talented publishing teams publishing with more flair, commitment and ingenuity than ever.”