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Global knowledge business bringing research to life

Emerald Group - and, more specifically, its academic publishing business, Emerald Publishing - celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In 1967, Emerald had just one title in its portfolio, but now the Bingley-based business publishes a range of 300 academic journals, 300 journals, more than 2,500 books and over 1,500 case studies.

The academic sector remains Emerald’s bread and butter, but it also offers publications for the social sciences and business sectors.

The business has evolved into a Group and become acquisitive, buying complementary companies that help bolster its service offering. Recent additions to the fold include: a creative agency focused on making academic research engaging, a research company which helps organizations accelerate business performance through learning, and a producer of management toolkits to help create better leaders.

But Emerald also innovates internally, and recently launched a new case studies division, which provides practical resources for lecturers and their students.

Emerald is a global success story; its customers are the world’s top 200 universities as well as business schools and distinguished colleges in 134 countries. It now has offices in 11 locations around the world. “We’ve aggressively built a global business,” says CEO Richard Bevan.

The publisher sells into the world’s venerable institutions but also sources its content from their academics. The business is extremely selective about what it chooses to publish: “We reject two-thirds of the content we receive, which maintains quality,” says Bevan.

“The market is not growing – in terms of core academic publishing – but we’ve punched above our weight. We have out-performed the market by 3-4 percentage points over the last few years.”

Technology has proved a competitive advantage for the agile business. “We have flexible and remote working built into our model, which means that we can hire the best talent, not just from Yorkshire but from all over the world, and truly position ourselves as a global brand,” says Bevan.

One of Emerald’s great strengths has been its provenance, and the fact it remains a firm that has stayed true to its roots, he claims. “Some of our rivals are more than 100 times our size,” says Bevan. “But our customers like that we’re not a ruthless commercial giant. We’re a family-oriented business.”

Backing Business Ambition 2017