Pearson has said trading for the first three months of 2015 has been in line with expectations, with a "good" first-quarter performance from Penguin Random House boosted by "million-copy" sales for The Girl on the Train.
Pearson's underlying sales for the quarter were down 1% to £0.9bn. Headline sales increased 5% with the benefit from the strength of the US dollar against sterling.
PRH benefited from more than 40 number one bestsellers around the world,"including the Fifty Shades of Grey movie tie-in and the one-million-copy bestselling debut novel The Girl on the Train." The Paula Hawkins debut, published by Doubleday, has sold nearly 150,000 hardbacks in the UK via Nielsen Bookscan and approaching 540,000 in the US. E-book sales in the UK totalled 112,000 for the first two months of the year.
Elsewhere in the business, Pearson's North America revenues "declined modestly", while there was a "good" performance in China English Language Learning and Brazil systems, partly offset by declines in South Africa. There was "modest growth" in UK assessments offset by declines in Australia higher education and the exit from technology publishing in certain Western European markets. Moves to sell Pearson's PowerSchool student information businesses is "progressing well" but still at an early stage, the company said.
Pearson's chief executive John Fallon said: "Pearson has had a solid start to the year, in line with our expectations. We're making good progress in our work to have a bigger impact on student learning, which will in turn support our future growth."
Pearson's chairman Glen Moreno is to step down as Pearson chairman in the next 12 months, after over nine years in the role, it has been announced. Moreno said he had been working on chair succession planning with the board for several months. "Pearson is in excellent shape, looking forward to some very good years under a strong executive team led by [chief executive] John Fallon," he said.
Board members David Arculus and Ken Hydon step down today (24th April). Elizabeth Corley and Tim Score have been appointed to the board in the past 12 months, and take over their roles.