Blackwell’s has reported an operating profit of £0.6m for the year to end June 2014, up from its operating loss of £2.8m the year before.
The results mark a return to profit for the company, which has gradually reduced its losses over the last five years from 2009, when they stood at £9.4m.
The retailer said digital helped to boost revenue as its results showed the academic chain bookseller had a turnover of £54.2m for the year ending 28th June, compared to £64.6m for 2013.
In June 2013 the company shut its library services division and sold its library customer list to Dawson Books Limited for £2.1m, which it said was reflected in the results.
Blackwell’s said the results showed “the impact of its strategic decisions to focus on the retail market whilst continuing to invest in its digital future”.
In a report the directors of Blackwell’s said the “market for academic books remains highly competitive”, and it would seek to “manage its risk by ensuring that its product range is diverse and sold via multiple channels”.
During the year Blackwell’s acquired bookshops at the universities of Bradford, Derby and Keele, and continued to benefit from University bursary arrangements, most notably the Met Card at Manchester Metropolitan University. Additional bursaries have since been gained at the Universities of Bristol and Kent and the London campus of Coventry University.
Among its investments for the year, Blackwell’s cited the launch of digital e-book platform Blackwell Learning; and the upcoming interactive electronic point of sale (EPOS) system being rolled out across the chain this autumn. The payment system will “facilitate Blackwell’s staff continuing to give a unique and outstanding customer service experience”.
David Prescott, Blackwell’s c.e.o. said: “Blackwell’s is building a sustainable future through investment in digital opportunities whilst maintaining a strong focus on the needs of its core customers.
“We continue to develop strong partnerships with key academic institutions whilst offering world class customer service and leveraging our academic expertise and the heritage of our brand.
“The board believes the company’s performance will continue to strengthen leading towards the achievement of our ambition of converting Blackwell’s into an employee owned business.”