RELX, parent of Reed Exhibitions and Elsevier, recorded a 10% revenue drop in the six months to end June 2020, to £3,501m (from £3,888m), with adjusted operating profit falling 24% to £939m (£1,240m).
The company said that its three largest business areas—STM (Elsevier), Risk & Business Analytics, and Legal—had "continued to deliver underlying revenue and adjusted operating profit growth in the first half of 2020" and were "currently holding up well", with electronic revenues growing 3%-4%.
However the Exhibitions business, which includes the London Book Fair and accounts for 16% of total revenue, had been "significantly" impacted by Covid-19, seeing revenues tumble 70.6% in the first half to £201m, down from £684m for the first half of 2019. The segment had an operating loss of £117m for the first half, compared with profit of £231m in the first six months of last year. The outlook for Exhibitions "remains highly uncertain", the company said.
RELX c.e.o. Erik Engstrom, commented: “Our first priority during the Covid-19 pandemic remains the health and safety of our colleagues, our customers, and the wider community in which we operate, whilst continuing to provide services to our customers.
“Our three largest business areas continued to perform well in the first half, delivering good growth in electronic revenues with product and service quality being maintained at high levels. Exhibitions has responded well to a challenging environment, and remains focused on serving its customers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. At the peak of the pandemic nearly all of our offices were closed and 97% of our 33,000 employees in over 40 countries were working remotely. We have now opened nearly half of our offices, and around 50% of our employees have the option to come into the office on a regular basis.
“Our longer term strategic priority is unchanged: the organic development of increasingly sophisticated information-based analytics and decision tools that deliver enhanced value to our customers, supplemented by selective acquisitions of targeted data, analytics and exhibition assets that support our organic growth strategies.”
RELX chair Sir Anthony Habgood said: “Despite the challenging environment, RELX has continued to pursue its strategic priorities successfully. Although earnings per share progress has been impacted by Covid-19 related disruption to our exhibitions business, we have announced an unchanged interim dividend of 13.6p reflecting the resilience of our three largest business areas and our strong financial position and cash flow. We also continued to build on our strong ESG performance, with Elsevier in particular supporting the scientific and medical response to Covid-19 with free downloads from the Elsevier Novel Coronavirus Information Centre now exceeding 100 million.”