The "spectacular" publishing success of the Fifty Shades trilogy has driven record half-year revenues and operating results at Random House in the first half of 2012, Bertelsmann has reported.
RH revenues rose 20% to €947m (up from €787m in the first half of 2011), with operating profit up 64% to €113m (€69m in 2011).
The RH performance was cited as one of the main reasons behind a Bertelsmann group profit rise of 31% to €353m in the first half. Bertelsmann also saw group revenues increase by 5% to €7.6bn (€7.2bn in first-half 2011), with growth reported at 3.7% excluding portfolio and currency effects, with operating EBIT from continuing operations at €731m and return on sales at 9.7%.
Random House has sold over 30m copies in the English language between March and June with sales evenly divided between print and e-book editions, Bertelsmann reported.
RHG chair and c.e.o. Gail Rebuck told staff: "We have had the best possible start to 2012, with the extraordinary sales of E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which is now officially the UK's bestselling book since records began and we are extremely proud to have contributed to the global Random House teamwork which has gone into successfully creating this publishing phenomenon."
She said the company was "also doing well throughout the rest of our lists" with standout performances from our authors across all formats including James Patterson, Sophie Kinsella, Jo Nesbo, Terry Pratchett and S J Watson among others. E-books have now surpassed 20% of total sales, she added.
Rebuck promised "one of the most varied and inspiring lists ever for the autumn", with authors from Ian McEwan and Rose Tremain to James Patterson, Terry Pratchett, Rod Stewart and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins. Publication of Salman Rushdie's September memoir will also involve "unprecedented worldwide co-ordinated effort," she said.
Random House chairman Markus Dohle told staff it was "a special moment" for the company to conclude the first-half of 2012 with record level revenues and profits despite "sustained weakness in the global economy and in our respective markets". Dohle said the Fifty Shades trilogy had been at the top of the national bestseller lists in all the publisher's territories from Australia to Argentina. "Creating and fulfilling the unequalled demand for the novels has mobilised an ongoing Random House publishing effort of unprecedented scale and teamwork within and across our international divisions," he said.
Bertelsmann c.e.o. Thomas Rabe said: "I am particularly pleased that Bertelsmann is growing significantly, and mainly organically. We want to accelerate this momentum with our four strategic approaches, to gradually reshape Bertelsmann over the next few years. The first of these strategic thrusts is strengthening our core businesses; second the transformation to digital of our businesses; third the development and expansion of growth platforms; and fourth expansion into growth regions, especially in Asia and South America."
He added: "For the current year we continue to expect moderate revenue growth, a continued high operating EBIT, and a year-on-year increase in net profit. However the subdued economic prospects and the euro crisis, whose repercussions are challenging to gauge, make it difficult to predict future developments at this time."