Mark Smith and Marcus Leaver, two publishing veterans with lots of trans-Atlantic publishing experience, have formed a new U.K.-based company, which has already made its first acquisition.
Welbeck Publishing Group will be headquartered in London, but, according to Smith, will have a “global outlook.” Forming the basis of the new publisher is Carlton Books, the U.K. publisher which has been acquired by Welbeck. In the release announcing the formation of Welbeck, Leaver said the new company “has long term funding that will enable us to build the Group patiently…Carlton is an excellent springboard for us.” Carlton is likely to be the first of several acquisitions, with the two men vowing to build "a new trade publishing business through the acquisition of established companies starting with Carlton and by incubating start-up businesses in scalable areas of the market."
Welbeck’s publishing focus will be on illustrated nonfiction and children’s books for the co-edition market as well as commercial fiction and non-fiction, subjects that are, for the most part, areas where Carlton is well established. The subjects also mesh with Leaver’s previous experience as CEO of Quarto Publishing, which he left in May 2018, and at Sterling Publishing, where he was CEO before joining Quarto. Smith’s background includes co-founding and serving as CEO of Quercus Books and starting Bonnier Zaffre, where he was CEO. Smith launched Quercus in 2004, expanded to the U.S. in 2013, and sold the company to Hodder & Stoughton in 2014.
The founder of Carlton, Jonathan Goodman, will stay on as publisher at large. In a prepared statement, Goodman said: “I have known both Mark and Marcus for many years. My partner, Michael Zilkha, and I are pleased to be selling our company to them and their investors. They will provide new dimensions to Carlton's established business and I look forward to even greater successes in the future.”