Gill family regain full control of educational publisher

Family to buy out share held by partner Macmillan

Michael Gill said operations at Gill and Macmillan, which employs about 70 staff in Dublin, would be  unaffected by the move. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Gill said operations at Gill and Macmillan, which employs about 70 staff in Dublin, would be unaffected by the move. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 


The Gill family, who have been involved in educational publishing in Ireland since the 1830s, are to take full control of the school books supplier Gill and Macmillan, in which they already held a 50 per cent stake.

The family announced yesterday they had agreed to buy out the half share held by their partner since 1968, the UK-based Macmillan Science and Education.

Operations at Gill and Macmillan, which employs about 70 staff in Dublin, are unaffected, according to Michael Gill, its chairman and former chief executive.

The move by Macmillan to sell its stake follows a reorganisation of its publishing divisions by Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, its German parent company, to focus more on digital publishing and growth in global markets.

‘Consistently profitable’
Both sides declined to reveal the price paid. The company said it would change its name “at a later stage”. Mr Gill told The Irish Times the company, which has unlimited status, had been “consistently profitable” despite a decline in the market in recent years.

“Macmillan is concentrating on the developing world. It was made clear to us about four years ago that they considered the type of publishing that we are engaged in here to be no longer core to what they do. We have been negotiating at a leisurely pace since then,” he said.

‘No borrowings’
Mr Gill said the transaction required “no borrowings at all” and would be financed from the company’s reserves. Gill and Macmillan went unlimited status about four years ago, but its last filed set of accounts, for 2008, showed shareholders’ funds of almost €3.7 million.

The Gill family hired legal advisers to complete the share purchase, but no corporate finance advisers were taken on. Mr Gill said the firm would retain an “ongoing relationship” with Macmillan, which would continue to act as its sales agent in some foreign markets.

About 80 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from educational publishing, with its titles prominent in Irish secondary schools and third-level colleges. It has “about 20 or 25 per cent” of the Irish educational books market.

The Irish market has contracted in recent years, as publishers have come under pressure from parents and schools to reissue fewer new editions of titles. Mr Gill said the market was down “about 20 per cent”.

“The whole industry has changed significantly,” he said. “We plan to invest heavily in digital resources. We see that area as being critical to the company’s future.”