Quill and Quire

Agency/distribution changes

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HarperCollins Canada moves distribution to U.S., lays off president and CEO David Kent

HarperCollinsCanadaHarperCollins announced today it is letting go HarperCollins Canada president and CEO David Kent in a wave of “consolidation” that will see the firm’s Canadian distribution operation outsourced to RR Donnelley’s warehouse in Plainfield, Indiana, by summer 2015. Kent will depart at the end of this year.

Kent joined HarperCollins Canada in 2001, and previously held numerous top executive positions in the publishing industry. “David’s been with us for over 13 years, and he has done a fantastic job for HarperCollins Canada, and HarperCollins generally,” says HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray. “The role of CEO of HarperCollins Canada is no longer there because we’re consolidating a lot of activities across the U.S. and Canada, so it’s more of a North American operation. We think that’s a more efficient way to serve booksellers and serve our authors.”

Iris Tupholme is promoted to senior vice-president and executive publisher and Leo MacDonald promoted to senior vice-president, marketing and sales. The two will oversee the Canadian operation, with Tupholme reporting to HarperCollins general books president and publisher Michael Morrison, and MacDonald reporting to president of sales Josh Marwell.* MacDonald will continue to work on the Canadian publishing program as well as HarperCollins lists from the U.S., the U.K., and the Christian Publishing division. Murray says the company’s Canadian publishing program will not be affected by the staff changes.

Corporate communications vice-president Erin Crum confirms that, aside from Tupholme, MacDonald, and Kent, “there were no other changes to the senior team.” However, employees at the Scarborough warehouse involved in picking, packing, and shipping will lose their jobs by the middle of 2015. HarperCollins Canada’s customer support staff, who also work out of the Scarborough distribution centre, are affected: Canadian customer service, credit, collection, IT, finance, and freight services will be handled by HarperCollins’ office in Moosic, Pennsylvania. Murray would not say how many people are employed at the warehouse, but sources familiar with the operation estimate that it currently employs between 100 and 150 people.

“We’ve been actively consolidating our North American distribution facilities for maybe four years now,” says Murray. “We’ve been moving our warehousing to a central facility with RR Donnelley, and so this is just the next chapter in the strategy we’ve followed for quite some time.” Since 2011, the company has relocated five distribution centres to the RR Donnelly facility, including titles from HarperCollins trade division, the Christian division, and Thomas Nelson.

The change affects eight other publishing companies (including House of Anansi Press, Greystone Books, ChiZine Publications, and Douglas & McIntyre) that distribute their books out of HarperCollins Canada’s Scarborough warehouse. Murray says the company is just beginning to announce the news to its Canadian distribution clients. “Obviously due to confidentiality they were not informed, but we’ve given significant lead time so that everyone can prepare, and we’re going to be reaching out to those customers in the coming days to talk about how we can work together going forward,” he says.

While the details of that transition are not yet available, Crum says publishers will have the option of moving distribution to RR Donnelley’s Indiana warehouse. The change does not apply to Harlequin titles, which will continue to be handled through the Buffalo, New York warehouse. All returns will be consolidated in Canada and forwarded to the company’s returns centre in LaPorte, Indiana.

*Correction: Nov. 5: An earlier version of this story misspelled Josh Marwell’s name. Q&Q regrets the error.