Hachette in the UK and USA: International Management

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The key changes announced emphasize greater international dexterity for Hachette under David Shelley’s transatlantic leadership.

From left are Seshni Jacobs, Katie Espiner, and Charlie King. Image: Hachette Book Group

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

Shelley: ‘On Both Sides of the Atlantic’
The divisions of Hachette in both the United Kingdom and United States today (May 7) have announced promotions and structural adjustments “designed to meet consumer needs in all formats and fuel Hachette’s growth” in those two both of those arenas as well as in additional international markets.

What unfolds here in a rather extensive set of leadership adjustments is a coherence and its protocols for the company’s new era as a Big Five player under unified leadership, signaled in November when David Shelley was named CEO of both the United States’ and United Kingdom’s divisions.

In the United States

Ben Sevier at Hachette Book Group (the US division) moves to president and publisher of Grand Central Publishing Group.

The company’s media messaging today says that in addition to his current work overseeing Grand Central and its imprints, Sevier is now responsible for Hachette Nashville and its imprints FaithWords, Center Street.

Ben Sevier

There’s also Worthy, led by Daisy Hutton, and Hachette Books and its imprint Hachette Go, led by Mary Ann Naples. Hutton and Naples continue to lead their teams and will report to Sevier.

“Sevier joined the company in 2017,” the company says, “and has led a period of profit growth and list expansion for Grand Central Publishing, overseeing the acquisition and publication of books by many bestselling authors including David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Sally Field, Colleen Hoover, Antonia Hylton, Abby Jimenez, Admiral William McRaven, Min Jin Lee, William Li MD, and Kennedy Ryan.”

Sevier continues to report to David Shelley, CEO of Hachette Book Group and Hachette UK.

In the United Kingdom

The current CEO of Hachette UK distribution Matt Wright, has become CEO of Hachette UK and Hachette Book Group distribution.

Wright’s distribution role is newly created, not unlike the relatively recent introduction of Shelley’s own USA-UK leadership, and he “will be responsible for leading the growth of Hachette UK and Hachette Book Group’s distribution business and their portfolio of client publishers,” including:

  • Abrams (USA)
  • Chronicle (USA)
  • Yen Press (USA)
  • Thames & Hudson (UK),
  • Quarto (USA and UK)
  • Elsevier (UK)
  • Lonely Planet (UK & USA)
  • Bloomsbury (UK)

Since Wright began to lead the UK distribution business in 2011, today’s information tells us, Wright has overseen the business’ transformation, including the company’s warehousing technology.

Matt Wright

“Wright will oversee the UK and US distribution businesses with Frank Casolaro, vice-president of Hachette Book Group distribution, reporting to him, while Wright will continue to report to Shelley.

In terms of Sevier’s promotion, Shelley is quoted today, saying, “I’m really pleased to recognize Ben’s outstanding record of success and growth, and to further reinforce Grand Central Publishing’s expansion by bringing two strong nonfiction-focused programs—Hachette Nashville, led by vice-president and publisher Daisy Hutton, and Hachette Books, led by vice-president and publisher Mary Ann Naples—into his portfolio.

David Shelley

“Since joining Hachette Book Group in 2017, Ben has driven Grand Central Publishing’s strategic growth, expanding its catalog, publishing expertise, and audience of readers significantly. This includes the successful development of the Balance and Legacy Lit imprints, as well as elevating the Forever team’s romance publishing program to new heights.

“Under Ben’s leadership, Grand Central Publishing has also expanded its traditional strength in commercial fiction and deepened the impact of its nonfiction publishing. Bringing Hachette Nashville and Hachette Books within Ben’s leadership is an exciting new chapter.”

“Carrie Bloxson’s new expanded role as senior vice-president in culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion, Shelley says, “is another exciting opportunity to tap into the wealth of talent at HUK and HBG.” Hailing Bloxson’s leadership in “DEI” work, he ways, Her expanded role reflects our commitment advancing our ‘Changing the Story’ pillar, the aim of which is for our publishing and our organization to mirror the diversity of the readers we serve.’

Joanne Westbrook

Also in the UK, Joanne Westbrook, current chief operating officer Hachette UK Distribution, is promoted to managing director of Hachette UK distribution.

She’s to lead UK distribution and continue to report to Wright.

UK: Three Core Areas of Adult Trade

In the UK, “Hachette will be structured into three core areas of publishing,” today’s messaging says: adult trade, children’s trade, and education.

A trio of CEOs—Katie Espiner (pictured above), Seshni Jacobs (also above), and Hilary Murray Hill. They’ll report to Shelley.

Adult Trade: This sector, adult trade—headed by Espiner—includes Bookouture, Dialogue, Headline, Hodder & Stoughton, John Murray Press, Little, Brown, Octopus, Orion, and Quercus. Espiner thus is responsible for these nine divisions, effective immediately

Education: This is the sector in which Jacobs becomes CEO, and she’s credited with “swiftly transforming the business from a primarily UK-centric print publisher into a global edtech provider, resulting in an impressive 35-percent surge in export sales in her first year.”

Hilary Murray Hill

Children’s Trade: This sector remains under the purview of Hill, who the company today credits with driving 90-percent growth since joining the company in 2015 and bringing the company’s children’s publishing into one division.

Shelley’s commentary on this section of the news points to what he describes as “a record-breaking year at Hachette UK in 2023.

“I’m extremely happy,” he says, “to announce a new structure which will help us reach ever more readers for our authors and creative partners’ works.” Congratulating each of these three CEOs, he says, “With these three CEOs in place I am very excited about the future of Hachette UK.”

Highlighting International Growth in Hachette UK

Charlie King (pictured above) is currently the managing director of Little, Brown and is being promoted to CEO of that group and CEO of the UK international divisions. This means he’ll carry along his current work with Little, Brown, expanding it to include leadership of:

  • Hachette Australia
  • Hachette New Zealand
  • Hachette India
  • Hachette Ireland
  • Laurence King Verlag

King will report to Espiner in his Little, Brown role. In his international roles, he will report to Richard Kitson.

Richard Kitson

Kitson is moving from Hachette Book Group deputy CEO to chair of the Hachette UK international divisions, while retaining oversight of the “central departments” in the United Kingdom and United States.

Kitson has led all of Hachette UK’s international divisions since 2010. And at this point, he continues to work with Paperblanks, an acquisition made by Hachette UK in 2022.

Relative to Kitson and King’s moves, Shelley says, “As Richard Kitson’s work has developed across all English-language markets, and as our international businesses under his leadership have shown unprecedented growth, it feels like the perfect time to help further fuel that growth with the promotion of Charlie King to directly oversee these businesses as CEO.

“Charlie has achieved extraordinary results for Little, Brown in recent years, consistently demonstrating exceptional leadership. I know he and Richard—who will remain very involved as chair—have big plans for the Hachette companies in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, and Germany, and we’re lucky to have dynamic, exceptional leaders in each of these countries.”

Nick Davies

Currently the managing director of John Murray Press, Nick Davies will add that role at Quercus as well, reporting to Espiner.

Having presided over what the company calls “another successful year in 2023 for John Murray Press, Davies now will “look to accelerate the growth of both divisions, working with Jon Butler, who continues in his role as managing director at Quercus,” reporting to Davies.

And Shelley concludes his comments on these moves by saying, “With these promotions, I believe we’ll be able to harness the fantastic talent across both Hachette Book Group US and Hachette UK and help make it easy for ever more readers to discover the books we publish on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I’d like to congratulate Katie, Seshni, Charlie, Nick, Ben, Carrie, Matt, and Jo on their really well-deserved promotions.”

As an international trade news medium responsive to markets in many parts of the world, Publishing Perspectives is highly selective in the industry-personnel news it reports. Our key criteria are (1) the prominence of the appointment involved and (2) the presence of demonstrated or potential influence in world markets of the relevant positions.

More from us on Hachette Book Group is here, more on Hachette UK is here, more on the United States market is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s 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.com, 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.