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24 October 2021

Company Development Project

The Company Development Project, which ran from September 2011 to April 2012, was devised to support publishers through a period of unprecedented change in the industry. In an increasingly global market, it is essential that publishers have the right mix of skills and focused strategies to help map out the way ahead. Strengthening the leadership and management within companies helps foster the confidence to operate within new digital markets.

The Project aimed to support the ambition, capacity and performance of between 6-10 small and medium-size publishing companies through the creation of a customised development plan for each company, with the mentoring and help of expert advisors, and a series of workshops.

Part funded by Creative Scotland and sponsored by CPI, the UK's largest book printer, the Project was delivered by Publishing Scotland through the services of the late David Pirnie of pirnielimited, a strategy and facilitation consultancy, and supervised by a steering group involving higher and further education partners, the publishing and printing industries, and Creative Skillset Scotland.

The companies

The 7 publishers were:

  • Acair, Isle of Lewis.
  • Floris Books, Edinburgh.
  • Freight Books, Glasgow
  • RCAHMS, Edinburgh
  • Sandstone Press, Dingwall
  • Saraband, Glasgow
  • Strident Publishing, Glasgow

The application form


The workshops

The final report

  • The Publishing Scotland Company Development Project Final Report by David Pirnie and Marion Sinclair (PDF, 154 pp).

  • See also the video case studies (left-hand column of this page).


The advisors

The role of the expert advisor was of critical importance to the success of the programme. Following a detailed discussion on their interests, aspirations and capacities, each publisher was 'matched-up' with an expert advisor who worked with the publisher to review their business initiative and help develop a plan to realise it. The starting point was what the publisher initially expressed as an idea when they joined the Programme although this was modified in some cases - even considerably - as the engagement with the advisor proceeded.

The precise inputs by an advisor varied in kind and emphasis depending upon what they and 'their' publisher agreed was most needed. This involved a variety of activities and advice - according to each publisher's individual needs - including advice and guidance on strategic and business matters as well as publishing-specific and technical matters. The progress against plan of each publisher was monitored over the 6 months of the programme and a collaborative evaluation made of what was achieved by the end.

The advisors were:

  • Willie Anderson, former MD of John Smith & Sons, Glasgow
  • Will Atkinson, Faber and Faber
  • Donald Boyd, Partner, Campbell Dallas, chartered accountants
  • Peter Collingridge, Enhanced Editions and Apt Studio
  • Ron Grosset, MD of Waverley Books
  • Jenny Todd, Marketing Director, Canongate Books
  • James McCall, Principal Consultant in International Publishing, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Martin Redfern, Publishing Consultant
  • Mike Miller, Chairman of BookSource
  • Philip Walters, formerly Chief Executive of Hodder Education