PRH: A New Role for the UK’s Grantham Operations Site

In News by Porter Anderson

This ‘unique capability,’ PRH worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya says, will use the distribution site in Grantham, England, to serve US-division customers in Europe.

In rural Lincolnshire near Grantham, the market town in which the Penguin Random House operations facility is situated. Image - Getty iStockphoto: David Carter

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Weldon: ‘This New Decision Feels Like the Right One’
In upbeat staff memos this morning (February 23) from Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and from Penguin Random House UK chief Tom Weldon, it’s being announced that the company’s facility in Grantham, England—which was to be closed—will become a new PRH operational center for fulfilling Penguin Random House US orders for customers in continental Europe.

The release of these two memos by members of the press has been embargoed to 8 a.m. GMT (London time), which is 3 a.m. Eastern time in the United States, where Publishing Perspectives is based.

The Grantham unit, situated in a market town in Lincolnshire’s rolling countryside east of Nottingham and north of Peterborough, had been slated for closure by PRH by late next year, as a result of the PRH UK division’s to shutter its third-party distribution operation.

While the closure of the third-party distribution element is still on track, “I am so pleased,” Malaviya writes in his memo, “to share that we will have a new operational hub for Penguin Random House US based in the UK to improve how we supply books to our European customers. This unique capability will enable us to bring even more of our authors’ books to readers around the world.”

One thing that had made the coming distribution program’s closure difficult, of course, was that some staffers of the Grantham Book Services site were going to have to face layoffs near the end of 2025. Earlier this month, a BBC article had reported that, “Up to 200 jobs are at risk at a book distributor in Lincolnshire.”

Tom Weldon

“From the UK perspective,” Weldon writes, “we’re pleased that this change means we will be making significantly fewer  redundancies than initially anticipated, as a number of these roles will still be required in this new hub run on behalf of PRH US. We are speaking directly to impacted colleagues today to explain what  this means for them, and to help them understand next steps.”

It’s not made clear in today’s memos how many roles appear to be sustainable under the new plan, but it’s clear that, at least for anyone looking in at the situation, the idea of utilizing an already functioning and otherwise endangered site in the United Kingdom to handle European distribution needs of the United States’ division of Penguin Random House seems ingenious and timely. Malaviya writes:

“The new operation will be run on behalf of Penguin Random House US and be supported by a new affiliate of Penguin Random House UK, under the leadership of Annette Danek, executive vice-president, chief supply chain officer, and managing director of UK distribution operations together with local management.

Nihar Malaviya

“While Penguin Random House UK continues working toward exiting their third-party operations from Grantham and focusing on supporting their clients, we’re building the logistics and systems capabilities for the new facility and currently expect to be operational next year, likely summer 2025.

“For years, our nationwide distribution centers in Maryland, Indiana, and Nevada have set the gold standard for the industry in realizing possibilities for booksellers, our authors, and our publishing partners. Our expansion to Grantham is the next step in our ever-evolving dedication to further helping our authors reach more readers and in helping our retailers with selling more books at lower costs.

“And bringing production, namely printing and shipping, closer to our continental European customers enables us to lower our carbon footprint and help our environmental and sustainability efforts.”

Weldon in London writes, “I appreciate that there has been a lot of change across the company over the past year, but this new  decision feels like the right one, for our US business and also for many of our colleagues.”

And Malaviya concludes, “My congratulations to the project team in the United States for their diligence and innovation throughout this process, as well as warm appreciation to our colleagues on the UK operations team for managing this with the utmost care and thoughtfulness.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on Penguin Random House as a whole is here, more on Penguin Random House UK is here, more on book distribution is here, more on the United Kingdom’s book publishing market is here, and more on the United States market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.