In a major and largely unprecedented restructuring, Hachette Livre, the book publishing arm of Lagardère Group, is bringing the Hachette Book Group and its U.K.-based counterpart, Hachette UK, into what it calls “a new English-language management structure.” Under the reorganization, HUK CEO David Shelley will take on the CEO role for both HBG and HUK, reporting to Hachette Livre deputy CEO Stéphanie Ferran and Arnaud Lagardère, chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre.
Michael Pietsch will retire as HBG’s CEO, and has been named chairman, while HBG’s well regarded COO, Joe Mangan, “has decided to leave HBG and will retire,” according to the announcement. Richard Kitson, deputy CEO of HUK, will assume the role of deputy CEO of both HBG and HUK. The changes will be effective January 1, 2024. Few operational details on, and no reasons for, the overhaul have been released, though the makeover occurs as Vivendi's long-simmering acquisition of Lagardère is expected to be completed very soon. The new changes also come one week after Arnaud Lagardère was appointed chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre, replacing Pierre Leroy.
“Thanks to this new structure at the helm of our publishing activities in the US and UK, Hachette Livre will be ideally positioned to pursue its ambitions to be a global leader by bringing business closer together and unlocking new opportunities for growth in those strategic markets,” Arnaud Lagardère said in a statement. “The success that David Shelley has built at Hachette UK is both inspiring and impressive, and he is the best person to create a strong and unified English language publishing team."
According to Lagardère's annual report, the U.S. accounted for 29% of the publishing division's revenue in 2022 and was Lagardère Publishing's largest market, while the U.K. accounted for 17% of sales. For the nine-month period ended September 30, 2023, total sales for Hachette Livre were €2.01 billion, up 0.9% over the comparable period a year ago.
In a statement, Shelley said that he was “incredibly honored to be given this opportunity to lead Hachette Book Group as well as Hachette UK and to work with Richard and the teams on both sides of the Atlantic to bring the two companies closer together.” He added: “I’d like to pay special tribute to Michael as he has been a key figure for me over the years. As well as being a legendary editor, publisher, and CEO, he is one of the most kind and thoughtful people in our industry. I am extremely pleased that he will be remaining as chairman for the coming year, and I look forward to working closely with him very much.”
According to the U.K. publishing trade publications, Shelley will spend most of his time in New York, being in the U.K. one week in five, while Kitson will be based in the U.K., working in the U.S. one week in four.
Pietsch has led HBG for 11 years, having been promoted to succeed David Young as CEO after serving as publisher of Little, Brown. During his tenure, Pietsch oversaw a string of acquisitions, including of Hyperion Adult, Perseus Books, and Workman Publishing, and worked with writers ranging from David Baldacci, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling to Ayad Akhtar, Min Jin Lee, and David Foster Wallace. Pietsch has also served on a number of industry boards, including PEN America, Poets & Writers, and the Association of American Publishers, where he served a term as chair.
“I’m proud of everything that all of us at Hachette Book Group have accomplished in the past decade, in close partnership with our authors—thriving, growing, and reinventing ourselves through complex and challenging times,” Pietsch said in a statement. “Working even more closely with our wonderful colleagues at Hachette UK, under David Shelley’s excellent leadership, will make us an even stronger company, and I look forward to contributing to our future successes in every way possible in my new role.”
This story has been updated with new information.