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‘Slight’ dip for Hachette UK in 2012

Hachette parent company Lagardere has reported a 1.9% fall in net sales for Hachette UK in 2012, compared to 2011, "despite commercially successful books", with digital sales making up 15% of revenue in the UK for the year.

For the full year, the overall drop in sales in the UK is attributed to a "strong increase in digital activities, that generate less sales (with no negative impact on margins), to still-difficult international market trends (Australia) and to the disposal of publisher's lists in Education". In the US, sales were down by 3.4%, attributed to "the growing share of digital activities", though in volume terms, activity was up by 1.2%.

Across the Lagardere Publishing division, net sales for the whole of 2012 were worth €2,077m (£1,798m), up 1.9% on a reported basis compared to 2011, and down by 1.2% on a like-for-like basis.

Digital books made up 7.7% of net sales, with digital representing 15% of net sales in the UK, and 21% of UK adult trade net sales. In the US, digital now represents 23% of total net sales, up 15% on the year before, though the statement reported a "marked slowdown" of digital sales growth.

Separate to the Lagardere statement, Hachette UK reported its sales of e-books grew more than 100% over sales in 2011 and make up over one fifth of HUK's UK trade sales. It also reported a market share of 12.5% for HUK for print books, and an estimated market share of e-books "in excess" of this figure.

Sales in the fourth quarter were down by 4.8% for Hachette UK, with digital book sales representing 19% of sales in the period. In the statement, the company said it was an "excellent" year-end performance by the division, but that the strong sales of fiction titles such as those by Maeve Binchy, Kate Mosse and Ian Rankin, does not "offset the negative impact on sales of growing digital shares (lower unit prices), difficult international trends (Australia and New Zealand) and the disposal of publisher's lists in Education". The statement also noted that fourth-quarter sales in 2011 were boosted by with the release of Steve Jobs' autobiography, whereas a sales boost came in the third quarter of 2012 with the release of J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  

In the US, sales were down by 5.7% in the fourth quarter, attributed to the "negative effect on net sales of digital growth on the one hand, and the negative comparison effect with a strong fourth quarter on the other hand".

Net sales were worth €546m (£472m) in the fourth quarter across the whole of the Lagardere Publishing division, representing a 1.6% jump on fourth quarter 2011 on a reported basis and a 0.8% drop on a like-for-like basis. In France, sales were up by 6%, with particular strength in general literature, Larousse, illustrated books and distribution. Business in Spain was still negatively affected by the economic environment.  

Digital sales represented 7.9% of total sales for Lagardere Publishing in the quarter.

Overall, net sales for Lagardere for the full-year 2012 were €7,370m (£6,382m), down 3.7% on a reported basis, and -0.2% on a like-for-like basis. Net sales for the fourth-quarter for the company were €2,018m (£1,747m), up 3.5% on a reported basis and 0.1% on a like-for-like basis.

Looking at the company's other divisions, net sales at Lagardere Active fell by 29.6% on a reported basis (-3.9% like-for-like) to €1,014m (£877.9m). Lagardere Services net sales rose 2.3% on a reported basis (2.2% like-for-like) to €3,809m (£3,297m), and Lagardere Unlimited was also up 3.5% on a reported basis, to €470m (£406m) to year-end 2012 (down 5.9% like-for-like).

Full-year results for 2012 will be released on 7th March.