Layoffs Hit HarperCollins


Publishing giant HarperCollins joined the industry-wide restructuring movement on Tuesday, announcing the closing of an imprint and the dismissal of two of its top executives. In its first move to reorganize since the economic downturn, the publisher eliminated its four-year-old Collins imprint, which published primarily nonfiction, including the 2007 best-seller The Dangerous Book for Boys, and, as a result, lost Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, and Lisa Gallagher, the senior vice president and publisher of William Morrow.

“Lisa and Steve, both widely regarded in our industry, have been valued colleagues and instrumental in the success of our company, and I thank them for all of their contributions during their time here,” wrote Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HarperCollins General Books Group, in a memo to staff. “They leave with my utmost respect and admiration.”

Morrison mentions in his letter that more staffing changes will take place, though specifics have not been announced. The New York Times reported that, according to inside sources, at least five Collins editors have departed, including executive editors Gillian Blake and Caroline Sutton, and that marketing, sales, and publicity employees have been let go from several divisions of HarperCollins.

Even as fellow publishing powerhouses announced layoffs last fall, HarperCollins had avoided cutting jobs by freezing salaries, reducing travel and entertainment budgets, and offering voluntary retirement to employees over fifty-five, chief executive Brian Murray told the Times. “But at the end of the day we need to have operating profits so we can continue to reinvest in our business,” Murray said. “And, unfortunately, over the past six months we haven’t had significant enough profits to continue to reinvest in our business the way we want to.”

HarperCollins reported earlier this month that it suffered its second consecutive weak quarter of the fiscal year, with revenue dropping twenty-five percent in the period ending on December 31, 2008. During the first six months of the fiscal year, operating income fell 75 percent.