eOne Features is to close its London-based international film sales operation as the Canadian company shifts further towards production and distribution.

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ScreenDaily has learned that up to 15 staff at the international sales division could be impacted and the team will not attend the EFM in Berlin next month.

However, some employees may be offered new roles within the company.

The development comes almost exactly one year after the departure of eOne Films International president Harold van Lier.

At the time the hierarchy wanted to focus more heavily on promoting in-house content under production chief Xavier Marchand.

The sales business was folded into the development and production operations and last summer the film unit was rebranded eOne Features.

In the last year, the sales force has worked on the likes of Eye In The Sky and Message From The King but insiders say overall it has struggled to compete with Hollywood’s top sales agents.

The division also struggled to find stability in its most senior role. Prior to van Lier the team was overseen for 18 months by former Momentum and Icon executive Sally Caplan.

The parent company – answerable to shareholders and trading publicly on the London Stock Exchange since 2007 – has felt the need to further streamline operations.

eOne has been aggressively tying up content deals and now Sierra/Affinity has emerged as eOne Features’ de facto sales operation following a merger announced last week with Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg’s Sierra Pictures.

Meyer and his team at Sierra/Affinity will handle the slate that eOne Features produces and acquires outside the  territories where the latter distributes directly – namely Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, Benelux and Spain.

The arrangement will also cover content from another significant supplier, The Mark Gordon Company, with whom eOne formed a joint venture a year ago.

Anick Poirier and her Montreal-based staff at eOne’s boutique Seville International will continue to sell arthouse fare and report to Meyer and eOne’s Patrick Roy.

It remains to be seen whether Sierra/Affinity will benefit from the biggest content play of the past 12 months by eOne – the buy-in to Steven Spielberg’s Universal-based Amblin Partners alongside Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media and Spielberg himself.

The Canadian company will directly distribute Amblin titles in the UK, Australia/New Zealand, Benelux and Spain, while Universal will handle North America and select international territories.

That leaves open the possibility of a further boon for Sierra/Affinity should Universal decline to handle sales in certain parts of the world.