Bloomsbury fires ahead in first half

<p>A vigorous publishing programme helped Bloomsbury to push up sales and profits during the first six months of the year. Sales rose 6.7% to &#163;31m in the six months to end-June, with operating profit up by 15.1% to &#163;2.8m.

The sales figure excludes the paperback of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was published in July. It compares to the same period in 2003, which included a small amount of early receipts for Order of the Phoenix in hardback. Gross margin decreased as expected to 45.4%, down from 50.9% in 2003 when it was bouyed by the Harry Potter hardback.

Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury chairman and c.e.o., highlighted Joanna Trollope's Brother&amp;Sister and Jennifer Donnelly's Richard&amp;Judy pick A Gathering Light as among the top performers in the spring. The latest edition of society bible Who's Who from A&C Black saw its "biggest promotion ever," having been serialised for the first time.

Pretax profit rose by 37% to &#163;3.9m, including an exceptional gain of &#163;560,000. The gain related to the sale of A&C Black's Eaton Socon warehouse for a profit of &#163;1.09m, less reorganisation costs of &#163;450,000 to cover the move to Macmillan Distribution; and a &#163;80,000 loss on the sale of Blue Guides. Pretax profit before goodwill amortisation and the exceptional gain was up 4.5% to &#163;3.7m.

Bloomsbury's main board has been reduced in number from twelve to six members, including executives Nigel Newton, Colin Adams and Liz Calder; a new management board, Bloomsbury Book Publishing Company has been set up comprising its main board executives and Jill Coleman, Minna Fry, Sarah Odedina, Alexandra Pringle, Kathy Rooney and David Ward.
liz.bury@bookseller.co.uk</p>