Gardners’ turnover and profit was down last year in a ‘competitive and challenging” market, but international sales at the company performed strongly.
The book wholesaler’s turnover was down 9% to £190.0m from £208.9m in the year to 28th February 2015, while profit was also down 11% to £3.6m.
However, the Eastbourne-based company had reported a bumper year during 2013-14, with sales up 9.7% and profit up 3.2%.
A note in the company accounts, which have been filed on Companies House, said: “The directors are satisfied with the company’s turnover in a competitive and challenging market and are looking to maintain and grow this in the coming years both externally through expansion and internally through its fellow subsidiaries.”
It added: “The UK market is expected to continue to be challenging in the forthcoming year and the directors are ensuring that all business costs monitored to maximize the effectiveness of those costs.”
Jonathan Little, a director at Gardners, told The Bookseller that the UK market had been down for the company in the year to February 2015, citing a decision by Sainsbury’s to stop selling entertainment products through its website in 2014 as having a negative impact.
“The UK was slightly depressed because Sainsbury’s decided to stop selling entertainment products, including books, through its website, which was a shame,” he said. "However, our international market is where we had good, strong growth and we have seen that continue this year.”
UK sales at the wholesaler were £135.06m, down 13.5% on last year, while international sales accounted for £54.91m, up 4.3%.
“Europe has been strong, but we have done well in Australia and the Far East too. We have also worked well with Japanese retailers,” Little said. As for the health of the high street, Little said “it is what the high street is.”
“Waterstones has done well this past year but the suggestion is in the UK that there is not much growth in that market,” he said. “Every market everywhere in the UK is tough, we are all working harder, particularly in the library sector where they have seen major public funding cuts, but we are working hard to continue growing the business and our future reach.”
On the subject of Black Friday, coming up on 27th November, Little added that it would be a “very busy period” for the wholesaler.
“It condenses the focus of everybody into that small window and an example of the way consumers like to shop at the moment,” he said. “It will be a very busy few days, put it that way.”