Welbeck partners with Booktopia on ANZ subsidiary

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Welbeck Publishing Group (WPG) has partnered with Australian online book retailer Booktopia to establish a standalone subsidiary to publish its titles directly into the Australia and New Zealand market.

Booktopia has taken a 25% stake in the in the London-based publisher’s new standalone subsidiary Welbeck ANZ. The deal is expected to be finalised by 30th September 2021 and Welbeck ANZ is expected to be fully operational in January 2022. Booktopia will invest approximately $3m in the new business.

Under the new partnership, Booktopia’s distribution arm, Booktopia Publisher Services (BPS), will distribute Welbeck ANZ’s catalogue of approximately 250 new titles each year and the backlist of 4,500 titles directly in the Australia and New Zealand market.

WPG also announced the formation of a local ANZ publishing programme with the aim of publishing 50 titles a year. The new programme will publish fiction, narrative non-fiction, children’s books, and a small range of illustrated and gift titles.

The strategic partnership with WPG extends Booktopia’s investment in publishing and follows the integration of Brio Books earlier this year, as well at the creation of its own imprint, Booktopia Editions, in 2019.

The Welbeck ANZ management team will be announced shortly, and the publisher’s executive director Mark Smith will relocate for a few months in early 2022 to assist with the establishment of the business and the recruitment of key publishing and operations staff. Fellow executive director Marcus Leaver will also base himself for part of each year in Sydney.

Smith said: “Marcus and I have long harboured ambitions for Welbeck to establish its own operations in Australia and New Zealand and we are delighted that we have agreed this partnership with Tony Nash and the team at Booktopia.”

“Having published key Australian and New Zealand authors such as Peter Temple, Isla Fisher, Heather Morris, Monica McInerny, Robert Ingpen, Bernard Beckett and Withi Ihimaera in international markets and successfully connected international authors such as Stieg Larsson, Stef Penney, Lisa Hilton, Lynda la Plante and Wilbur Smith with Australian readers, we are very excited to now be in a position to discover new authors and work with established writers through our new Sydney-based publishing operation.”

Leaver added: “Within a short period of time, we plan to be a significant independent publisher in the ANZ market with a fresh, innovative and entrepreneurial approach that connects as many authors with readers as possible all around the world. Tony Nash and the Booktopia team are the perfect partners for Welbeck as their entire focus mirrors ours: putting great books in customers’ hands.”

Booktopia founder and chief executive Tony Nash said the investment was part of Booktopia’s strategy to be at the core of the Australian and New Zealand book industries: “The big winners from this partnership are the readers, who will now have better access to Welbeck’s huge catalogue of the very best and most commercial books. In bringing together two well-known businesses with strong track records, we’re excited to deliver positive outcomes for authors, our customers and the industry in Australia and New Zealand.”

“We have known Mark Smith and Marcus Leaver for many years and have always been impressed with their publishing prowess. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to invest in their publishing programme moving forward. The Welbeck Publishing Group is on a fast track to becoming a major player in the global independent publishing world. As a shareholder in Welbeck ANZ we will be able to champion their international and local titles into the Australian market. They have 4,500 titles on their list already and it continues to grow. Booktopia’s mission is to be at the central core of the ANZ book industry and investing in publishing companies like the Welbeck Publishing Group takes us one step closer to our goal.”

Source – The Bookseller

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