Sales rise at ‘fitter, faster’ CUP

Sales rise at ‘fitter, faster’ CUP

Cambridge University Press has reported headline sales growth of 14% to £306m in its 2016/17 annual report, up from £268.8m in the previous year. Underlying growth, stripping out the effects of foreign exchange and the weakened pound, stood at 5%.

Operating profit for the year was £16.3m, surging £10m from the previous year’s total of £6.5m.

The results show a marked improvement on last year, when underlying sales grew just 1.5%, and profit was flat.

CUP chief executive Peter Phillips said that each of the three publishing groups that make up the business – Academic, English Language Teaching (ELT) and Education – had increased sales overall, with double-digit growth in Education and in CUP's journals publishing. The steep rise in operating profit reflected not just sales growth but also the benefits of the publisher’s recently completed restructuring, particularly in its ELT business, he added.   

Digital products accounted for 36% of CUP’s sales in the year, with a key development being the launch in September 2016 of Cambridge Core, CUP’s new platform bringing together academic books and journals in one single online home, which the publisher said has seen over 18.5 million downloads.  

The strong growth in the Education business included new wins in Educational Reform contracts with governments in the Middle East and Africa, a further strengthening of its position in key markets such as Australia and India, as well as the opening of new offices in Nigeria and Pakistan. Meanwhile ELT saw "strong momentum...buoyed along by excellent sales growth to schools in our key country markets and outstanding digital products", with the restructure last year leaving the business "more nimble in responding to customers' needs, and more willing and able to take risks in an uncertain environment."

Of the Academic book business, which m.d. Mandy Hill warned in spring 2016 would see a "tough" year, Phillips noted "important gains in journal publishing, increasing the number of our titles to 391", and said continued focus on quality enabled CUP to stand out in a "difficult" environment, "with a decline in print sales across the industry amid tight library budgets and increasing price sensitivity." CUP titles won six categories at the annual Professional and Scholarly Excellence Awards (PROSE) run by the Association of American Publishers.

Phillips said: “Investing heavily in digital solutions and listening ever more closely to our customers – be they researchers, librarians, teachers, students, or our authors – are two of the strategic imperatives that have guided our actions in recent years. All this, coupled with hard work and creative thinking from Press colleagues around the globe, has positioned us for a bright future in the digital age. We are now fitter, faster and more flexible than we have ever been.”

He also noted deepening ties between the Press and the University, including with Cambridge Assessment, the University Library and many of the research and teaching departments.