Bloomsbury consumer revenues up 28% in first quarter

Bloomsbury consumer revenues up 28% in first quarter

Bloomsbury's total consumer sales rose 28% to £31.5m during its first quarter, with the publisher's board saying it was confident in the company's ability to "weather the impact of coronavirus".  

The trading update covers the first four months of Bloomsbury's financial year, beginning in March and ending on 30th June. The independent publisher experienced strong trading, with-year-on year sales growth of 18%, to a total of £49.5m, despite the disruption caused by the pandemic. 

The strong results represent a turnaround from the publisher's expectations earlier in the year; in April, Bloomsbury issued new shares and implemented a raft of cash-saving measures, warning of a "prudent downside scenario" which could see print revenues fall as much as 75% because of the lockdown. 

However the latest trading update shows revenue in the consumer adult trade division increased by 29% in the first quarter, from £9.9m in the same quarter of 2019 to £12.7m, with sales in the consumer children's trade division also following suit and growing from £14.7m in 2019 to £18.8m for the same period this year, an increase of 27%. Total consumer sales growth was up 28% to £31.5m. Included in the bestselling roster is Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About RaceHumankind by Rutger Bregman and Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas. 

Non-consumer division revenue experienced less growth, coming in at 3% above last year at a total of £18m, with academic and professional section growth of 4%. Special Interest revenue was in line with last year's results. 

Print revenues in total were 9% above last year’s sales, and digital revenues grew by 63% year on year. Digital revenues include academic digital products, as well as e-books and audio books. E-book revenues were 53% higher than last year and Bloomsbury Digital Resources saw year-on-year growth of 60%.

UK revenues were 16% higher than last year and US revenues grew by 38%. Sales in India plummeted to 70% below last year's figures, which the publisher has attributed to "the severe impact of government lockdowns". Australia's sales came in at 1% below last year. 
As recorded on 30th June, Bloomsbury held net cash of £35.5m and has an unsecured revolving facility with Lloyds Bank Plc of £8m in the first half and an additional £4m in the second half, to match its cashflow cycle. The publishers' board said it believed Bloomsbury has "sufficient liquidity to weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and avoid damaging our business in the long-term." 

The results were released ahead of Bloomsbury's a.g.m. today (21st July). 

A spokesperson for the company said: "Our digital strategy has placed us well to benefit from increased demand for digital resources, audio and e-books during the pandemic. Academic institutions are facing changes in their student mix, with fewer international students, and their higher fees.
"Our good May and June performance in particular were unexpected, and historically demand for books has been resilient in times of economic downturns. However, our customers are unclear about what is to follow. Our outlook in the next eight months therefore remains uncertain as the pandemic continues. Bloomsbury has a successful track record of acquisitions and we are considering opportunities in Academic publishing."
The results for the six months ending 31st August will be announced on 27th October.