Hachette U.K. has consolidated all its children's publishing into a single division, to be headed by Hilary Murray Hill, who will join in January from Egmont as Hachette Children's Group CEO.

Marlene Johnson will lead the unified operation until her retirement at the close of this year. The Hachette Children's Group will comprise Hachette Children's Books, Orion Children's Publishing, and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Clare Somerville will take on the role of deputy managing director.

At Egmont, Cally Poplak will take on the role of MD of the U.K. book division in addition to her current role as MD of Egmont Publishing U.K.

The Hachette Children's Group will consist of four distinct fiction imprints: Orion Children's Books led by managing director and publisher Fiona Kennedy; LBYR led by publishing director Karen Ball; Hodder Children's Books led by publishing director Anne McNeil; and Orchard Books led by publishing director Megan Larkin.

There will also be two educational imprints: Franklin Watts led by publishing director Rachel Cooke, and Wayland led by editorial director Debbie Foy.

It is being stressed that "all members of staff who currently work for Hachette Children's Books, Orion Children's Books and Little, Brown Young Readers will join the Hachette Children's Group. The aim of the merger is to develop new strengths in children's publishing from a successful base. There are no redundancies as a result of the creation of the new division."

The new division will become operational on January 1, 2015, with Murray Hill arriving on January 13. Where it "makes sense," the staff at Orion Children's Books and LBYR will move to join their colleagues in Euston Road before everyone moves together to Carmelite House in spring 2015.

Atom will continue to be an imprint of Little, Brown. James Gurbutt will widen his role as publisher of Corsair to become publisher of Corsair and Atom. Sarah Castleton has been promoted to commissioning editor for Corsair and Atom. She will report to Gurbutt, and Gurbutt will continue to report to David Shelley, L,B publisher.

Sales for the Hachette Children's Group will be handled by the Hachette Children's Books sales team led by sales director Jason McKenzie, reporting to Lucy Hale. Orion Children's Books and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which are currently distributed by LBS, will move to Bookpoint, so that, from January 1, all books published by Hachette Children's Group will be distributed by Bookpoint.

Hachette U.K. CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson said he was "delighted to announce this important strategic development for Hachette. We are bringing our abundant talent into one children's publishing division that will be focused on ambitious and creative publishing programmes in every children's publishing area and for every age group. Our six current imprints will continue, retaining their identities and their individual strengths under the leadership of their current managing directors and publishers. But now, led by Marlene in the short term and by Hilary from the New Year, they will be part of a larger talent pool giving each individual imprint greater sales and marketing reach and, collectively, under one management, becoming part of a rich and specialised children's publishing division.

"This reorganization is a mark of our ambition in children's publishing: it capitalises on our strengths and it will create new opportunities for our talented staff as the division grows and diversifies. We are excited at this opportunity for growth and our plan will no doubt be strengthened by the exchange of many great ideas as everyone gets involved in embracing each other's best practices, and developing our strategy for the future. I am extremely grateful to Marlene for steering and leading this new design that caps her wonderfully inspiring and successful publishing career of over 40 years. I have been working with Marlene since I joined Hachette 10 years ago and am full of admiration for her drive and ambition for her books and authors which led to the creation of a very successful and profitable children's publishing division. The division she masterminded now moves on to another stage in its development as the home of great authors and staff. There will be many further opportunities to thank Marlene but for now I want to acknowledge her outstanding contribution to children's publishing."

He concluded: "Marlene and I are both excited at the prospect of Hilary bringing her experience and ideas here. I know that Hilary is keen to start meeting our authors and colleagues and to support the talent from which we already benefit as well as adding new dimensions to the business in digital and other spheres."

Arnaud Nourry, chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre, said: "Marlene has been a powerhouse behind the growth of our children's publishing business in the U.K. from the moment she joined the Watts Publishing Group almost 30 years ago. She was instrumental in the establishment of Orchard and, after Hachette's acquisition of Hodder Headline in 2004, Marlene, with Tim, managed the merger of the children's publishing divisions into Hachette Children's Books which she has led to become a market-leading creative and nurturing environment for authors and illustrators alike. Marlene is a formidable businesswoman who combines a forensic understanding of balance sheets with the warmth and understanding required to manage a successful creative business. I want to thank her most warmly for her enormous contribution to Hachette U.K."

Speaking for herself, Johnson – who began her career at Macdonald in 1968 and who has mentored innumerable young publishers, including Francesca Dow (now head of children's publishing at Penguin Random House) – reflected: "The world is changing, the way stories are discovered is changing and we are changing too. The children's teams across Hachette are passionate about delivering the very best to today's children and the newly enlarged children's division will bring together amazing talent from across the spectrum. I am immensely proud of my team and what we have achieved over the last 10 years, the breadth of our publishing and our myriad successes. And despite being part of a very large group we have retained the heart and warmth that makes every author published by us, every book and every member of staff feel special. The company is now entering a new phase of its development and it seems to be the perfect time to welcome Hilary to take the new division forward. I would also like to thank Tim and Arnaud for their unerring support over the years and their commitment to children's publishing."

Hilary Murray Hill said: "It has been a thoroughly interesting and happy experience working with Cally and her excellent team at Egmont but the opportunity to take the role of chief executive of the Hachette Children's Group was unmissable. I am delighted to have this new challenge when the opportunities in children's publishing have never been more varied or required more creativity."

At Egmont, Poplak said: "I have loved working with Hilary and am hugely grateful for the work she has done to complete the merger of our two book divisions into one market leading children’s book business. Anyone who knows me will be aware of my passion for the books we make for all children, the fantastic authors, illustrators and brands we work with and, therefore, my genuine excitement to be taking on this role."

Poplak retains overall control of the U.K. business, including magazines, and her role on Egmont Publishing’s international board.