Bonnier Books UK has appointed Sarah Benton to lead the newly titled Zaffre Publishing Group as the company prepares for the next stage of its growth.
As managing director of Zaffre Publishing Group, Benton will take on strategic responsibility for flagship fiction and non-fiction imprints, Zaffre and Blink, commercial non-fiction imprint John Blake, literary imprint Manilla Press and health and wellness list Lagom. The division’s bestselling authors include Heather Morris, Lynda LaPlante, Wilbur Smith, Stacey Halls, Christy Lefteri, Tom Bower, Anita Rani, Steve Mann, and Dr. Tara Porter, as well as books from household names like Josh Widdicombe, Rob Beckett, Katherine Ryan and Andrew Flintoff.
Benton will join the company in April after six years at Hachette’s Orion Publishing Group where she is currently executive publisher for fiction, playing a pivotal role in growing brand authors including Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Joe Abercrombie, Cathy Bramley and Veronica Henry, alongside debut writers including Libby Page and Candice Carty Williams. She also publishes bestselling authors such as Joanne Harris and Leigh Bardugo on her own list. Prior to that, she was deputy md at Orion working alongside Katie Espiner to lead the company to win Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2021. During her time at Hachette, Benton also created and spearheaded Orion’s award- winning remote work experience programme.
Before joining Orion, Benton was marketing director at HarperFiction and head of marketing at Bonnier Books UK’s YA imprint, Hot Key Books when it first launched in 2012.
Sarah Benton said:
“I’ve had the most unforgettable six years at Orion and have had the pleasure of working with some of the very best talent and authors in the business who I will miss hugely. An enormous thanks to Katie Espiner, David Shelley and Anna Valentine for all the opportunities I have been given at Orion and Hachette. But I am so excited about the chance to join Bonnier Books UK and lead the Zaffre Publishing Group into the future. Having been a proud member of the team who launched Hot Key Books, it feels like coming home. It is such an honour to take on this role with Perminder and build on the outstanding legacy that Kate Parkin started. I can’t wait to get going.”
Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books UK said: “Sarah’s appointment is a really important step forward for the company and I’m absolutely thrilled she’s agreed to join us at such a pivotal time. Working together many years ago I was impressed by her audience-focused approach and forward thinking and I’ve enjoyed seeing her career flourish since then, in particular working with Katie Espiner to revitalise Orion. She has proven to be a strong, inclusive leader with an impressive blend of creativity and commercial insight. Thanks to a talented, hard-working team and incredible roster of authors, Zaffre Publishing Group is perfectly positioned for growth and I can imagine no better person to drive it forward than Sarah.”
Anna Valentine, Managing Director, Orion Publishing Group said: “Sarah has made an enormous contribution to Orion, first leading our award-winning marketing team before supporting Katie Espiner as deputy managing director and latterly overseeing our commercial fiction output, delivering publishing excellence for our bestselling roster of authors. She leaves Orion Fiction and Gollancz in great shape, and with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for her new role at Bonnier.”
In parallel, business and smart-thinking imprint Heligo Books, led by editorial director Rik Ubhi, will move across from Zaffre Publishing Group to the Black & White Publishing Group. Black & White Publishing Group md Tim Whiting said: “I have huge respect and admiration for Rik’s taste and his strategic vision for Heligo, which chimes so well with my own experience of publishing in this area.”
The two adult divisions will sit alongside each other and operate competitively, with Benton and Whiting reporting into Mann. Agent submissions are welcome to be submitted to both divisions.
Benton succeeds previous m.d. Kate Parkin who left the company in December.