Bloomsbury's first half revenues soar 15%

Bloomsbury's first half revenues soar 15%

The Bloomsbury Group’s revenues soared by 15% to £72.1m for the first six months of its financial year, helped by J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books which boosted sales in the publisher’s children’s division by 33%.

The publisher, which won the Man Booker Prize last week with George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, also saw digital revenues rise 15% to £8.9m year-on-year for the first six months to 31st August 2017, while print sales were up 16% to £60.1m.

Profit before tax meanwhile came in at £1.7m, up from £100,000 in the same period a year earlier.

The company's consumer division performed more strongly than its non-consumer arm, with sales up by 20%, driven by its children’s books where revenues rose by a third.

The Harry Potter effect continues to spell success for the company, especially following the 20th anniversary of the release of the first title in June. “J K Rowling’s Harry Potter titles continue to sell strongly, including the Harry Potter Box Set and the new House Editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which celebrate the 20th anniversary of the title first being published”, the report said.

Sales of books by Sarah J Maas have also grown 47% in the period, with Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and Kid Normal by Greg James and Chris Smith also cited as publishing successes for the company. 

Sales of adult titles dipped slightly though from £13.4m in 2016 to £13m this year “with flat print book sales and a 10% reduction in higher margin e-book sales”, according to the publisher, with the division showing “the effects of general industry-wide weakness”. This change in sales mix combined with £0.1m incremental overhead investment following strategic changes in the division have “adversely impacted the result in the period”, the report said.

Revenues in Bloomsbury’s non-consumer division rose 8% to £27.4m from £25.4m last year while academic and professional digital resources grew 10% from £2m in 2016 to £2.2m this year, including a 17% rise in Bloomsbury Professional Online. Bestselling titles on the non-consumer side include Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2017 and Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe while a new imprint, Bloomsbury China, has been created to publish works in English about China for the Chinese market.

Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing, said: “It has been a very strong six months for Bloomsbury. Revenues are up 15%, with good growth in each of our territories. The children’s trade division delivered another outstanding performance, increasing revenues by 33%. The group is trading in line with the Board’s expectations for the full year.

“October is the peak period for academic book sales and Christmas for the sales of consumer books. We therefore expect our results to continue to be second-half weighted, as in past years. We have successfully launched two new major digital resources this period and are on track to launch a further two new resources this year, one more than originally planned in the Bloomsbury 2020 growth plan.”

Newton was also optimistic about the company's “strong second half list” which includes the Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the illustrated edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and two major books to accompany the British Library’s Harry Potter exhibition, which opened last Thursday (19th October). He also has high hopes for the company's cookery list including A Baker’s Life by Paul Hollywood, Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge and River Cottage Much More Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.