Summersdale acquired by Octopus

Summersdale acquired by Octopus

The Octopus Publishing Group has acquired 27-year-old indie Summersdale. 

The deal was completed yesterday (31st October), Alison Goff, c.e.o. of Octopus Publishing Group, and Alastair Williams, managing director of Summersdale, have confirmed. The transaction has been structured as a purchase by Octopus of 100% shareholding in the business, which remains intact as a company.

Williams, who founded Summersdale with Stewart Ferris in 1990, will continue in his role as managing director and be given "a wider creative role within Hachette" also. According to Octopus, there are no redundancies; Williams and all 23 Summersdale staff will remain based in Chichester, West Sussex for the foreseeable future, it confirmed.

Summersdale had a strong 2016, according to Nielsen BookScan, with 319,906 books sold for £1.985m—a record 20% boost in both volume and value. For the year to date, its volume sales come in at 142,085 books, a 14% boost on the same period in 2016, while revenue at £903,069 climbed 14.5%. Known for its gift and humour titles, the publisher's recent successes include F in exams, Commando Dad and Little Book of Drinking Games, and it has thrice been been shortlisted for Independent Trade Publisher of the Year, winning the award in 2014. 

Williams said Hachette would help it to achieve "greater scale and reach" while retaining its "independent, entrepreneurial spirit", as Octopus said it looked forward to growing the "dynamic, fast-growing" business internationally.

"After 27 years of independent publishing, I am delighted that the company has been acquired by Octopus, and extremely proud that Summersdale will sit alongside so many fine imprints," he said.

"After a number of meetings with Alison I felt comfortable and excited that we had found the ideal home for our company and list. It was important for us to retain our independent, entrepreneurial spirit and distinct personality, and Octopus identified this. Likewise, we also saw the benefit of being part of much larger group to allow our lists to flourish and also to achieve greater scale and reach."

Goff said: "I have long-admired the energetic, creative publishing that Alastair and his team deliver. They’re quick to spot trends and, with characteristic high quality design and production values, bring books to market with incredible speed. It’s a winning formula which has convinced many retailers that books can be an important part of their product range and thus opening up whole new areas of the market. I am hugely excited by the opportunity to work with Alastair and grow the business further internationally."

The acquistion follows Octopus Publishing Group's purchase of independent cookery publisher Kyle Cathie Ltd earlier this month as its managing director of 28 years, Kyle Cathie, prepares to step down. It also bought Lewes-based illustrated reference publisher Ilex in 2014.

David Shelley, c.e.o. designate of Hachette commented on this latest acquisition: "I am so excited about Summersdale joining Octopus. A dynamic, fast-growing company with an incredibly sophisticated understanding of consumer behaviour and changing trends, Summersdale is a true leader in its field. The team there delivers something genuinely different and appealing, as evidenced by their great success in the gift and humour markets. I am also delighted that Alastair Williams will have a wider creative role within Hachette – I think he and Summersdale will be a brilliant addition to Hachette UK."