Italy's Giunti Group has acquired 20% of the U.K.-based Quarto Group.

In addition, Polly Powell, a former publisher at Pavilion Books, has been appointed CEO of Quarto’s U.K. businesses, and has been made an executive director of the company. Andrea Giunti Lombardo has been named to the company board as a non-executive director.

Founded in 1956, Giunti is one of Italy's leading publishers, with 20 imprints across a range of genres, from literary imprint Bompiani to mass market children's books publisher Disney Italy. The company also operates Italy's largest chain of bookstores, Giunti al Punto, with some 215 outlets across the country. Total operating revenue for the publishing company is estimated at being in excess of $250 million annually.

The Quarto Group raised $18 million last week by issuing new shares, with 57.5% taken up by existing shareholders and the remainder acquired by Chuk Kin Lau of Hong Kong's Lion Rock Group—Quarto's largest shareholder—and the Giunti family.

Quarto Group is best known as a publisher of illustrated books. It operates in more than 50 countries and with a turnover of $149 million. In recent years, the company has been beset with some turmoil, including several changes in leadership that saw company founder Laurence Orbach ousted as chairman and CEO in 2012 and replaced by Marcus Leaver, who stayed for six years before resigning in 2018, after Orbach was reappointed executive chairman. The board machinations were due to the company's high levels of debt, which has necessitated raising more capital—resulting in the opportunity for Guinti to take part of the company.

Ken Fund, COO of Quarto Group, told PW that neither Quarto or Giunti will have an active role in the other company's day-to-day operations, and will instead focus on helping each other expand their respective markets. "We will collaborate using our strengths," he said. "Giunti will help us with the European marketplace for our English language books. And as one of the largest publishers of illustrated books in the world, we will help with our global presence, which stretches across Asia and the Americas."

Asked about the acquisition, Sergio Giunti, president of Giunti Group, confirmed that he was especially interested in taking advantage of Quarto's global reach, telling the Italian journal Il Libraio: "We are aware of the evolutions that new technologies impose on the book market and we are working on the publishing house of tomorrow which will necessarily have an international horizon," he said. "We pay great attention to the possibilities offered by Quarto's global distribution, to the development of new markets also but not only in the Anglo-Saxon context. We look with great curiosity to China, India, and Southeast Asia. For publishing, there are still endless opportunities."