Continuum grows sales, loss falls

<p>Specialist academic and religious publisher Continuum is to release &quot;a significant collection&quot; of Bible studies e-books after recording a year of &quot;the first organic [sales] growth enjoyed by the company&rsquo;s core operations for many years&quot;.</p><p>Although the publisher still made an overall loss for the year to 30th June, this dropped from &pound;6.4m in the previous period to &pound;2.1m. Turnover for the whole group grew from &pound;11.3m to &pound;11.4m, while revenues from the publishing arm grew 3% from &pound;9.1m to &pound;9.4m. </p><p>Continuum also improved gross margin, from 45% to 59%, thanks to &quot;significant changes in strategy&quot;, which chairman Patrick Austen said was &quot;a trend we expect to continue&quot;.</p><p>Oliver Gadsby, who became chief executive of Continuum on 1st July 2007, said: &quot;Clearly we are not content with being a loss-making company, and are on a rapid ascent towards making a profit.&quot;</p><p>He explained: &quot;At the start of the [financial] year we decided what we wanted to be as a company, and focused on that activity well. We exited the marketing services we ran in the US, moved away from book distribution, and focused on the publishing business&mdash;to make sure we publish on time, at the right price, and at a high quality.&quot;</p><p>A swathe of changes were also made to the publishing arm, including expanding the editorial team, particularly in arts and humanities, and the launch of an e-book programme, which has seen digital versions of front and backlist titles brought to market.</p><p>The publisher is now looking to launch more than 380 titles from The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies. Continuum said the series was &quot;an essential resource&quot; for Bible studies students. </p><p>Gadsby said the launch took the total number of e-books &quot;from a standing start to 1,200 in just over a year&quot;. The company is planning to expand this to 2,000 by the end of 2009.</p><p>He acknowledged this year was presenting a tough market in which to become profitable&mdash;particularly in the US, which makes up nearly half of Continuum&rsquo;s revenues, but Gadsby was optimistic. &quot;We have all sorts of good things going on, including a big programme for this spring and the continued momentum of the e-book list,&quot; he said. &quot;We are reminaing very positive in what is admittedly a more difficult climate.&quot; The next six months is about &quot;heads down and getting on with the improvement&quot;, he added.</p>