Bloomsbury’s results for the year ending 28th February 2019 show “outstanding performance” in the academic and professional division with a 13% increase in revenue growth, as it unveils a partnership with educational publishers Human Kinetics and Taylor and Francis.
Total revenues for the company rose from £161.5m to £162.7m, while profit before taxation grew 3% from £11.6m to £12m. Profit before taxation and highlighted items grew by 9% to £14.4m, up from £13.2m in 2017/18, ahead of market expectations, Bloomsbury said.
In the non-consumer division, academic and professional led the way with profit before highlighted items of £3.1m, compared to a loss of £0.4m in 2017/18, in a performance described by “outstanding” by c.e.o. Nigel Newton. Revenue for this section was up 13%. Meanwhile the academic and professional resources for the Bloomsbury Digital Resources 2020 scheme (launched in 2016) showed a revenue rise of around 42%. There were five new digital resources launched under the Bloomsbury Digital Resources 2020 scheme.
While the results were mostly positive there were a few weaker areas. The publisher described its consumer division as “resilient”, however figures slightly dipped from £11.4m in the previous year to £10.7m. The consumer division delivered revenue of £99.3m, compared to £102.2m previously while operating profit before highlighted items was £10.7m, down from £11.4m. However adult trade performance proved “exceptional” with operating profit before highlighted items of £0.9m compared to £0.2m previously, it was more that the children's trade struggled to repeat the unusually strong performance of the previous year.
Children’s trade dipped slightly from £11.6m in 2017/18 to £9.8m this year however Newton said in the report that there were “enduring sales of the Harry Potter series against last year’s very strong comparative with the 20th anniversary”. He added “Sarah J Maas titles continued their bestselling performance, including the new bestseller, Kingdom of Ash, and revenue and profit growth delivered in the rest of the children’s division” and told The Bookseller that Maas’ forthcoming title is expected to be a top performing title in the coming months.
Bloomsbury's Drama Online continues to perform strongly - Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s smash hit play "Fleabag" (Nick Hearn Books) is one of 3,000 plays on Bloomsbury Digital Resource’s academic library digital subscription resource Drama Online.
Content services were also slightly down from £1.4m in the previous year to £1m in 2018/19, particularly in the print division. Newton said a content services deal has just gone through and emphasised the newly revealed content partnerships with Taylor and Francis and Human Kinetics, the world’s leading sports science publisher, further leveraging our BDR 2020 development and infrastructure.
The new “Human Kinetics Library” will be designed around the needs of students and instructors, and will cover topics from exercise and sports science to sports psychology, biomechanics, nutrition, physiology, recreation and sports management, Bloomsbury said in a seperate release about the partnership with Human Kinetics. The Library will combine Bloomsbury’s expertise in creating immersive digital libraries with Human Kinetics’ unrivalled content, which will be available digitally for institutional purchase for the first time, thereby broadening access for students and educators globally. In addition to supplying the technology solution, Bloomsbury will assume responsibility for marketing, distribution and sales. Kathryn Earle, m.d. of Bloomsbury Digital Resources, said: Digital technologies have so many advantages over traditional print formats in applied areas; physical instruction can benefit immeasurably from multimedia presentation, and following the launch, exponentially more students and educators will be able to discover and access this content with ease. We are looking forward not just to delivering the product, but to working on an ongoing basis with Human Kinetics to unleash the tremendous digital potential of their content into global markets.”
Newton also said that the partnership with Spotify, announced a year ago, is “going extremely well” and that Spotify will be rolling out the series of short books about popular music by the end of this year.
There are also plans to expand but Newton was unable to provide further detail on how many new roles are being created. Newton said: “The most important number in the results is the profit increase of 9% demonstrating the strength, resilience and potential of our publishing strategy.”
He cited books such as Circe by Madeleine Miller, which has been Waterstones Book of the Month, as well as “many great books of narrative non-fiction” such as the new edition of Silk Road by Peter Frankopan along with various cookery titles such as Lose Weight for Good and Fresh Start by Tom Kerridge. “These have given us quite a strong number of bestsellers in our core publishing area,” Newton said. It was also announced on Tuesday (21st May) that Bloomsbury will publish another title from Kerridge in December, with more details to follow soon.
Commenting on the results, in the statement circulated by the publisher, Newton said: “Bloomsbury had a very strong year. Our results, with profits before tax and highlighted items up 9%, demonstrate the underlying strength, resilience and further potential of our global publishing strategy. Our Academic and Professional division delivered an outstanding performance with 13% revenue growth and profit before tax and highlighted items up £3.5 million. We had an exceptional result in our Adult division, where profit before tax and highlighted items grew by £1.1m, in a year in which we had many novels, works of narrative non-fiction and cookery titles including Fresh Start by Tom Kerridge, hit the bestseller lists in our core publishing area.
"A year ago, I announced the Bigger Bloomsbury strategy; we have delivered all seven initiatives, including improving our working capital by reducing inventories by £2m and growing Academic and Professional digital resource revenue by 42%. These initiatives focus on our key growth drivers with targeted strategies across the Group to help grow our revenues and increase our margins over the next four years.
"Our strong financial position and excellent cash generation, with cash of £27.6 million and cash conversion of 128%, give us great opportunities for further acquisitions and investment in organic growth. Our proposed dividend increase of 6% delivers our 24th year of consecutive dividend growth.”