'Significantly higher' 2012 earnings reported for Hachette UK

Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson has said 2013 will be a year of "major change" with the unveiling of "winning plans for the future".

Speaking as parent company Lagardere reported its full-year results for 2012, Hely Hutchinson disclosed that digital accounted for as much as 50% of some UK author's sales and he said he believed Hachette was the UK e-book leader "by a wide margin" due to its share of the fiction market.

The Lagardere Group revealed its full-year profit performance for the 12 months to December 2012, having released its sales performance last month, with earnings for the publishing business up from €221m in 2011 to €223m in 2012. Across Lagardere's global publishing business, digital sales accounted for 8% of net sales, the company said.

For Hachette UK, recurring EBIT before associates was described as being "significantly higher", due to "commercial successes recognised at the end of the year, the dramatic growth of the digital market share, and effective cost control".

For Hachette US, "momentum" was described as "more uneven" due to lower sales relative to 2011, with "a marked slowdown" for business in Spain due to the economic crisis. However, in France, recurring EBIT before associates was up "slightly", due to the "solid performance of general literature", as the company had both The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling and the Fifty Shades trilogy by E L James, illustrated books, and Larousse activities.

Overall, earnings at Lagardere Group were down from €414m in 2011 to €358m in 2012, with the statement attributing this €56m drop partially to the disposals of two businesses, International Magazine Publishing (PMI) and Russian Radio activities, in 2011.

In his separate comments, looking ahead to the next 12 months, Hely Hutchinson said: "The most successful publishers of the next few years will combine thoughtful, individual author focus with imaginative, tailored new digital capability and we at Hachette are determined to lead in all these aspects."

"In our own case... e-books can account for as much as 50% of some authors’ sales . . . Because of our outstanding share of the fiction market, where e-books are strongest, we believe we are the e-book leader by a wide margin and we would love to have industry statistics to validate that and measure our future performance."

He also said that 2013 will be marked by "the unveiling of winning plans for the future", and noted the company is "rolling out new market research and Consumer Insight functions and a wider variety of new digital products and marketing initiatives".

He praised sales of Call the Midwife and Gone Girl in particular for getting 2013 off to "a very good start", and praised 2012 as a "year of brilliant publishing" for Hachette UK. He singled out books by authors including J K Rowling, Miranda Hart and Antony Beevor, as well as the launch of projects such as digital hubs SF Gateway, Crime Vault, the Murder Room and, this year, Little, Brown's new digital imprint, Blackfriars.