June 23, 1999. Blackwell Ltd and Swets & Zeitlinger BV announce an agreement of their formal intention to combine Swets Subscription Service and Blackwell's Information Services, the two subscription agency businesses.
Subject to the completion of satisfactory arrangements currently under discussion, the creation of the new organisation will be concluded later this year. The integration of the services and systems will be undertaken over the next 24 months.
Swets and Blackwell's are two of the leading global subscription agents and information service companies, providing innovative services in the area of print and electronic publications to many thousands of libraries and scholars around the world.
Journals publishing and distribution are undergoing fundamental changes as a result of the impact of the Internet and electronic networks. The merger agreement is a result of a recognition by the two companies that their combined skills and expertise will place the new organisation in a unique position to meet the evolving needs of customers and publishers in the new millennium. Both companies have a long history of serving libraries worldwide and strong track records in developing services that assist customers in the challenges that have faced them in recent years. The joint venture will result therefore in a company with a leading global position in the area of information and subscription services and one strongly equipped as a major partner both for libraries and publishers.
It is also recognised that their business philosophies have a strong similarity, placing a high regard on personal and responsive service combined with an innovative approach to meeting library needs. Both companies employ staff who are highly experienced and professional, ensuring that the customer service capabilities of the new organisation will be second to none. Staff of both companies have been informed of the development and will be consulted regularly throughout the transition period.
Swets and Blackwell's individually have leading positions in a number of different geographic markets. The merger of the two companies will allow the new organisation to bring an extended range of services to libraries all round the world. The sharing of experience and resources in service and product development, and the expertise in responding to new purchasing trends such as library consortia, will result in significant benefits for the companies' customers. The Head Office of
the joint venture will be located in The Netherlands.
Pieter Rustenburg, Chairman of the Board of Swets & Zeitlinger BV, stated "We are delighted with the prospect of being able to work with Blackwell's in future as a partner rather than as a competitor. Over the years we have held Blackwell's in the highest regard, aware of the very significant reputation and tradition they have in the library community. The opportunity now for our two companies to bring together the unique strengths and services of our organisations for the good of our customers is very exciting".
He continued: "The reputation of both our companies has been built on excellent customer service delivered by dedicated and professional staff. Employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction. That philosophy will be high on our agenda for the new partnership, where we shall continue to aim for the highest calibre of staff. Our intention is to retain as many existing people as possible in current or similar roles."
Anthony Thompson , Group Chief Executive of Blackwell Ltd, said:
"The combination of Swets Subscription Service and Blackwell's Information Services is a logical strategic move. Swets has an excellent reputation and we are pleased to be joining forces with such a quality company to deliver the best service for our customers.
It is important to recognise that this business operates on wafer thin margins and that the cost of doing business via electronic as well as paper journal subscriptions has grown rapidly in the last 2-3 years. To have a sustainable business size and scale are becoming increasingly important. In a competitive global market we have now brought the necessary resources together to meet the growing needs of our customers worldwide."
He continued: "Our key focus now is to ensure that all staff affected by this announcement are treated with respect and fairness during what will inevitably be a period of uncertainty and change. I am confident that the transition will be efficiently managed and will therefore be successful. Ultimately what will really make the difference is the quality and calibre of staff that will form the new organisation. Together Blackwell's and Swets will be an unbeatable market leader."
For the time being, it will be "business as usual". The two companies will continue to provide services to their respective customers and all renewals of subscriptions for 2000 (for customers and to publishers) will be undertaken separately by Swets and Blackwell's. Customers should continue to liaise with their existing contacts at the companies. The integration of systems and services will be phased in during 2000 and 2001 to ensure an efficient transition to the new arrangements. Customers and publishers will be kept informed of developments.