Publishing firm Hachette UK has appointed Chris Howell as CIO. Howell joins the London based business from Gatwick Airport where he was head of IT strategy and business systems since 2014.
Howell brings major retail experience to the publisher of the Harry Potter books. Before joining Sussex based Gatwick airport Howell sent two years with the department store chain Marks & Spencer working on its online offering. He joined Marks & Spencer from electronics retailer Dixons where he was IT Director. Howell began his technology leadership career with supermarket chain Tesco.
Hachette told The Bookseller that Howell will report to the COO of the publisher Chis Emerson. A major part of the role according to the book trade title is responsibility for a new distribution system at the Hachette warehouse in Didcot, Oxfordshire and a new royalties and payments platform.
COO Emerson told The Bookseller: “I am absolutely delighted to announce Chris’ appointment as CIO. Over the last few years we have transformed our IT landscape, replacing ageing legacy systems with modern, state of the art technology. However, we operate in very dynamic markets and need to ensure that we continually innovate to enable our authors to connect with readers in new ways. Chris’s experience, drive, enthusiasm, passion for books and, not least, his good sense of humour, will make him a fantastic leader of our IT team and a terrific partner for our publishers.”
Howell said to the title: “I am super excited to be joining the team at Hachette UK. It is a rare privilege to be able to combine my passion for reading and my desire to deliver great customer experiences.
“I look forward to working with my new publishing colleagues and my team for the benefit of our authors and our readers.”
In April the Publishers Association revealed that book sales were healthy, recording sales of £4.8 billion, an increase of sales by seven percent. Digital sales increased by six percent, although eBook sales declined. Sales of physical books increased by eight percent to the highest level since 2012.