Lagardère Publishing today reported a "solid" first quarter (11th May), driven in part by a "vigorous" performance from Hachette UK where sales surged 8.1%, led by "significant restocking" of J K Rowling's titles (Little, Brown) and by the success of Bruno Vincent's spoof Famous Five series (Quercus).
Revenue for Lagardère Publishing, Hachette's parent division, totalled €440m (Q1 2016: €415m), up 6.1% on a consolidated basis and up 3.3% like-for-like, which Lagardère put down to strong performances in both the UK and US (US sales up 4.1%), with the caveat that these performances were "not necessarily representative of full-year trends", noting the first quarter traditionally makes a relatively low contribution to the year as a whole.
Hachette UK said it was "delighted" with its performance in the first three months of 2017 but acknowledged too that an exceptional contribution was made by "the book of the decade", Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown), and it was unlikely to be able to match this for the rest of the year ahead. The division grew sales by 11% in 2016, thanks in part to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown) and Fantastic Beasts (Little, Brown), both of which had "more than offset the decline in digital revenue in the UK". Lagardère Publishing's revenues overall in 2016 rose 2.5% like-for-like to €2,264m (2015: €2,206m).
Tim Hely Hutchinson, c.e.o. Hachette UK, said: “We are pleased to have started the year ahead of last year and our own expectations. Over the course of the first quarter we have had 62 bestsellers across the Sunday Times lists, eight of which were number one bestsellers and we were delighted that our books, authors and staff were so well recognised at the British Book Awards earlier this week."
He added of e-book publisher Bookouture, which Hachette UK acquired in March to help it grow e-book sales across the group: "Bookouture has made an excellent start and we are optimistic about the summer and autumn seasons, for which our lists offer great richness and depth.”
E-books accounted for a very slightly smaller proportion of sales for Lagardère Publishing this first quarter, making up 10% of revenue in first-quarter 2017 compared to 10.4% for the first three months of 2016.
In France, business remained stable (down 0.5%) in what was described as "a sharply downbeat market and against the backdrop of the French presidential election" and in the Spain/Latin America region, revenues declined "as expected" (down 13.9%). The US' 4.1% increase in revenues was attributed to its Nashville unit and the success of titles including Trump's War by Michael Savage.
Revenue for the first quarter for Lagardère overall came in at €1,532m, up 6.2% on a like-for-like basis and down 3.4% on a consolidated basis.