Walker Books and Collins Learning have won the relaunched British Book Award for Export, announced at the London Book Fair in association with Times Publishing and Pansing Distribution.
The best exporter Nibbies, brought back for 2019 after a gap of several years, were divided between companies with export sales below or above £10m. The winners were announced by Siew Peng Yim, c.e.o. of Times Publishing.
For those selling more than £10m, Collins Learning triumphed from a shortlist including DK, Hodder Education Group and Pan Macmillan.
The company has seen a five-year growth surge thanks to a strategy of looking to new markets, solidifying established relationships, adjusting its content for local educators and expanding its export team. Partnerships have been key to success in China while the diversification of its Collins Big Cat series led to a huge rise in the US.
Judges said they were also impressed by the hard work Collins put in to smaller, often overlooked territories. Sales into the Carribbean rose 33% on the back of investment in local textbook publishing.
Nigel Roby, c.e.o of The Bookseller, said: “Our judges were particularly impressed with this company’s well thought-out strategy of looking to new markets whilst solidifying established relationships. Sales into one smaller territory rose 33% on the back of investment in local textbook publishing. It showed its commitment to succeeding by trebling its export team.”
In the other category, Walker Books saw off competition from Bonnier Zaffre, John Beaufoy Publishing and Michael O’Mara Books.
Five years ago, the children’s specialist brought its export arms together in London, leading to a huge growth in sales. It saw an uptick in large established territories like Mexico, German and the Netherlands, while smaller and emerging markets were prioritised with particular success in Kenya, Slovakia and Croatia.
Judges revealed they were particularly impressed at how proactive Walker was on the ground in most markets, working hard with distributors and retailers, but also readers, by establishing relationships with bloggers and Instagrammers to help drive sales.
Roby told the audience: “After a lengthy debate, the judges decided to give the award to a company that had brought its UK, US and Australian export arms into a single London-headquartered team to streamline its offer and work more nimbly across continents. The result was a huge uptick in sales across the board, with exports up a whopping 50% over the period and 2018 a record year.”
He added: “The Bookseller has been delighted to bring back the British Book Award for Export and I hope that the rest of your fair is replete with export opportunities.”