Flat sales but underlying growth for CUP

Flat sales but underlying growth for CUP

Cambridge University Press has reported a sales increase of 5% at constant currency rates in the year to end April 2014, to a total of £263.4m. Its pre-tax operating surplus for the year stood at £8m.

However chief executive Peter Phillips said that the marked strengthening of sterling through the year had led to consolidated sales and operating surplus in sterling remaining flat against last year, despite underlying growth "higher than many of our competitors." Last year's sales stood at £261.7m with a surplus reported at £8.2m.

CUP has some 90% of its sales outside the UK.

The Press said it had seen "strong underlying growth" across Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, South Africa, Australia and Spain, "all delivered against a background of continued economic challenges in many markets." E-book sales grew by almost a third on the previous year. Digital revenues as a whole continued to rise, with CUP launching new products including a massive open online course (MOOC) for GCSE Computing, and digital archive The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online.

The English Language Group saw "significant" underlying growth, with particular success in Latin America, Asia and Spain, driven by "exceptionally" strong growth in the Schools and Exams business. Highlights of the year were cited as including the first fully interactive e-books for Complete IELTS 4-5.

The year also saw continued investment in the renewal of CUP's back-office systems, the publisher said, in what was described as a major investment programme giving the Press faster and deeper business information and help in introducing new products and business models more quickly.

Phillips commented: "Our continued commitment to quality and innovation have paid dividends this year. In spite of unfavourable currency movements, we have seen sales growth with particularly strong expansion in English Language Teaching and Education. As we move into an exciting and challenging new publishing age, we are investing heavily to ensure that the Press is in the strongest position to succeed in the rapidly evolving global and digital world."   

Sir David Bell, chair of the Press Syndicate, said in CUP's annual report: "2013-14 was a difficult year for all publishers. The ongoing precariousness of the global economy and disruption to traditional business models posed an extreme challenge, and UK-based business making sales in other parts of the world suffered a double-whammy as the pound continued to strengthen significantly against other currencies in the course of the year.

"Even so, the Press is in a good place. The success of our tenders to provide curriculum-related products in Eudcation, our ability to attract the very best Academic books and journals as seen in the astonishing list of award and prizes.. and the ground-breaking blended learning courses we are producing in ELT, are all examples of our momentum, in the rights direction and at quite a pace. Once the effects of exchange-rate movements are stripped out, both the Press's sales and its surplus are up on the previous year, demonstrating strong underlying growth and more robust profitability in key areas."