Booksellers turn a new leaf

German media corporation Bertelsmann has sold Book Club
Associates (BCA), the UK’s largest mail order bookseller, to
Germany-based private equity firm and turnaround specialist
Aurelius. BCA operates the Books Direct club as well as six
special-interest clubs, including History Guild and Books for
Children. Aurelius says it expects to return BCA to profitability
this year.

The deal follows Bertelsmann’s announcement in July that it would
sell its DirectGroup businesses in nine countries to concentrate
on what it called the “large European
markets”-German-speaking and French-speaking regions as
well as southern Europe, including Italy, Portugal, and Spain. It
sold its North American business to US private equity firm Najafi
Cos in July and its Benelux business to Dutch investment company
Clearwater in December.

There was further consolidation in the sector, as Pandora Books,
which sells to primary and secondary schools, acquired competitor
Badger Publishing. Pandora had been purchased in April 2008 in a
management buyout funded by Key Capital Partners. The Badger
team, led by general manager and publisher David Jamieson, will
remain with the business.

But whereas the BCA and Pandora deals mark an investment in the
UK’s book trade, US-based Scholastic has exited Britain, having
shut its direct-to-consumer continuities business Grolier on 31st
December. It already sold its US direct-to-home continuities
business to Norway-based children’s book club operator Sandvik AS
but could not secure a buyer for the UK business. Approximately
100 jobs were lost.



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