Hachette UK acquires Paperblanks, publisher of high-end notebooks and diaries

Hachette UK has bought Paperblanks, described as the world’s second largest publisher of premium notebooks, journals and diaries, as part of its strategy to expand its portfolio of complementary businesses.

An agreement was signed on January 14 which will see Hachette UK acquire 100% of the company’s capital. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed by Hachette.

Following the acquisition, Paperblanks will become a stand-alone business within Hachette UK, reporting to the group’s deputy chief executive, Richard Kitson. It will be divided into two corporate entities: Paperblanks Journals Limited, a Canadian company that will operate the North and Latin American activities; and Paperblanks Limited, an Irish company that will become the organization’s global headquarters, based in Hachette’s Dublin office.

There are around 30 Paperblanks employees in Dublin who will move to the new head office immediately and around 20 in the Vancouver office which will remain open. The Vancouver team focuses more on design while the Dublin team handles all business operations.

As part of the transaction, Paperblanks’ current Regional CEO and Group CFO, Graham Conway, will assume the role of CEO, succeeding founder Victor Marks. Hachette did not specify how other staff members would be affected.

A spokesperson for Hachette UK said: “As well as providing Hachette UK with an exciting opportunity to capitalize on this rapidly growing market, the acquisition further supports the publisher’s long-term strategic objective to acquire complementary activities – in particular stationery brands – while continuing to make the company ever more diversified and internationally oriented.”

The news follows the acquisition of Laurence King Publishing by Hachette UK in September 2020 and CEO David Shelley highlighted the potential for complementary businesses. “For a long time I admired Paperblanks and the stationery they publish,” he said. “Their beautiful, high quality notebooks, journals and planners have won them many devoted fans around the world over the past 30 years.

“I believe there are fantastic opportunities for us as a book publisher in acquiring and growing complementary businesses. Since we acquired Laurence King Publishing last year, we’ve learned a lot from their giveaways and games business, and there’s been tremendous cross-pollination between books and games. I think it will be the same with Paperblanks and there will be exciting opportunities for creative collaboration with Hachette’s book divisions. I couldn’t be happier that Victor Marks entrusted his business to us.

Founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1991 and now based in Dublin, Paperblanks focuses on the high-end segment of stationery, with image art centered around classic book binding design, literature, science, music, mysticism and creativity. In addition to its own product lines, Paperblanks has global co-branding partnerships with the Getty Museum and the New York Public Library, as well as licensing relationships with several cultural institutions around the world, including the British Library, the V&A , the Van Gogh Museum and many more.

Marks said: “I am pleased to pass ownership of Paperblanks to Hachette UK. I believe they have the passion, the commitment and the wherewithal to make the Paperblanks footprint a much stronger position globally, which it rightly deserves.

Kitson commented: “This is an extremely exciting acquisition for Hachette. Paperblanks is a world leader in its field, and we really look forward to working with Graham Conway and the Paperblanks teams in Dublin and Vancouver. Our books and Paperblanks notebooks, journals and planners complement each other, and we see great opportunity for future growth.

Conway added: “Being part of the Hachette family is a watershed moment for Paperblanks. Our founder Victor Marks had a vision to create the most unique notebooks in the world and brought together a global team of amazing people who are passionate about bringing joy to people’s lives through our wonderful designs. We’re brimming with excitement for the future as we begin writing the next chapter in the Paperblanks story.