E-books and Continuum buy drive sales at Bloomsbury

E-books and Continuum buy drive sales at Bloomsbury

E-book sales and the acquisition of Continuum helped sales at Bloomsbury leap 16%, although relocation and restructuring costs led to pre-tax profit more than halving to £0.3m, in its latest set of financial accounts.

For the six months to 31st August 2011, turnover, including the results of Continuum which Bloomsbury acquired in July, was up 16% to £44.9m, from £38.6m in 2010, with chief executive Nigel Newton describing the period as "a strong first half to the year with both the UK and US performing above expectations". He said: "Our Academic & Professional division was bolstered by the transforming acquisition of Continuum in July, providing us with more stable and predictable income streams."

E-book sales surged by 564% between 2010 and 2011 and are worth £2.5m, or 5.5% of total group sales. Newton said: "Our early-mover advantage and the investment we have made, means we are well positioned to benefit from continued digital growth."

Pre-tax profit, adjusted for amoritisation of intangible assets, acquisition costs, restructuring and relocation costs, was up 52% to £2.2m, though unadjusted pre-tax profit was down from £0.8m in the first six months of 2010, to £0.3m to August 2011.

Each of Bloomsbury's four publishing divisions increased their turnover year-on-year for the six-month period, with increased licensing and rights activity contributing to a 32% increase in other income to £2.9m.

Bloomsbury Academic & Professional generated 19% of group sales over the six-month period, with total turnover, including two months of results from Continuum, up 26% to £8.7m, with profit before highlighted items rising to £0.9m, up from £0.4m. The first six months of 2011 also saw the announcement of web resource Drama Online, and the purchasing of the backlist of The National Archives publishing programme. Bloomsbury Professional was reported as being "on course for its most successful year", with the first six months described as "exceptionally strong".

In the Adult division, sales were up by 10.5% year-on-year to £22.1m, with the division generating 49% of Group sales, down from 52% in the same period in 2010. However, profit before highlighted items was down from £0.4m in 2010 to £37,000 in 2011, a drop attributed partly to an increased loss before taxation in the Adult division in Germany of £1.1m. Highlights were Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos and the Samuel Johnson Prize winner Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikotter.

Digital library service Public Library Online now serves more than eight million people in the UK, and a further 17 million elsewhere in Europe.

In Children's and Educational, the children's market was described as "robust and [continuing] to grow", with the children's division generating 28% of group sales, up 1% on 2010. Sales were up by 19% year on year to £12.6m, with profit before highlighted items rising by £0.4m to £0.6m. Harry Potter was described as having "led the way" in the UK, with "strong revenue at an above average cost of sale", as the final film and the interactive online reading experience www.pottermore.com were launched. In digital, the division's first enhanced title is due for simultaneous print and e-book publication later next year.

For Bloomsbury Information, sales were up 38% year on year to £1.5m, with profit before highlighted items up by £0.2m to £0.5m for the period.

Looking ahead, the management statement highlighted a "strong" list for the second half of 2011, with River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Heston at Home by Heston Blumenthal, The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford and Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman all picked out as titles likely to do well.

Newton added: "We believe that our restructured business of one global Bloomsbury has a firm foundation and an excellent management team, which, combined with continuing e-book growth and strong content, will enable us to deliver results in line with our expectations. In our 25th anniversary year, we believe our global strategy provides Bloomsbury with a firm foundation on which to continue to grow the business."