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Hachette UK's digital sales up 40% in 2014

Hachette UK’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were down slightly in 2013, because of “continuing difficulties internationally and the unfavourable comparison effect with 2012”.

But c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson said 2013 was an “outstanding year” for Hachette UK and that 2014 was “off to a tremendous start” with digital sales in February up almost 40% compared to the same period the year before.

He added: “As in 2012, our profits were excellent and the difference between the two years was not important.”

The publisher’s parent company Lagardere released 2013 full-year results this afternoon (12th March), which showed income in 2013 for Lagardere Publishing, of which Hachette UK is a part, was €223m, exactly the same as in 2012. The company said Lagardere Publishing had a good year “thanks to good results in general literature and artworks”. But in the UK recurring EBIT was down slightly, even though last month Lagardere reported that net sales for Hachette UK were up 1.5% in 2013.

Releasing its results, Lagardere said of the UK business: “The commercial successes recognised at the end of the year were offset by continuing difficulties internationally and the unfavourable comparison effect with 2012, that was marked by the release of numerous bestsellers.”

In 2013 Hachette UK saw success with Sir Alex Feguson’s autobiography, which was the best selling hardback sports memoir of all time, and with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

Hely Hutchinson said: “Our good results [in 2013] came from across the group and, in addition to great performances from our trade divisions, it was particularly pleasing that our education division had such a good year, despite there being no curriculum change in England.”

He said Hachette UK’s publishing programme for the “rest of the year is a roll call of many of our bestselling authors together with some thrilling debuts and new acquisitions”.

In France EBIT “edged up slightly” due to good performances from general literature – notably Dan Brown and E. L. James – and illustrated books such as Asterix and the Picts. These offset a “sharp decline in education linked to the absence of curriculum reform”.

EBIT was also up in the US, “thanks to several bestsellers and the positive effects of growth momentum in digital books”, but was down in Spain and Latin America, partially due to the absence of curriculum reform in Spain and the “lingering effects of the economic crisis”.

Overall earnings at Lagardere Group were up from €358m in 2012 to €372m in 2013, but net sales in 2013 were down 1.3% on 2012 to €7.2m.