Hachette hails 'very strong' fourth quarter as Lagardère reports 2018 decline

Hachette hails 'very strong' fourth quarter as Lagardère reports 2018 decline

Hachette UK c.e.o. David Shelley hailed a “very strong” fourth quarter for the publisher, as parent company Lagardère reported a revenue drop of 1.2% like-for-like for the full-year 2018.

Figures for Hachette UK were not broken out, but Shelley said Hachette had managed to build on successful results in the first half of the year, with non-fiction "particularly strong” in the fourth quarter, with bestsellers including Listening to the Animals: Becoming a Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick and The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book (both published by Trapeze), Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to Big Questions (John Murray) and Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape by Gino D’Campo (Hodder & Stoughton).

He also highlighted several of the company's fiction titles, including Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (Sphere), John Grisham’s The Reckoning (Hodder & Stoughton), In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin (Orion) Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald by J K Rowling (Little, Brown).

Shelley pointed to the publisher’s Nielsen BookScan TCM figures, saying: “Hachette ended the year with a market share of 12.7%, up from 12.6% in 2017 and despite a squeeze in educational markets, Hodder Education finished the year the third largest publisher with a 23% share of the market.”

He added that 2019 “has begun with a flourish” with strong sales of some Christmas bestsellers and paperbacks including Clare Mackintosh’s Let Me Lie (Little, Brown), Peter May’s The Man With No Face (Quercus) and Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend (Headline).

Print-only figures from Nielsen BookScan for Hachette UK showed total sales for the year were down 0.23% by volume but sales value increased by 3.11% to £204.2m.

Lagardère said its 2018 revenue for the publishing division totalled €2.252m, down 1.6% on a consolidated basis. It said the slight decline was “expected” and reflected the absence of curriculum reform in France but it was countered by bestsellers in the US like Bill Clinton and James Patterson novel The President is Missing.

The fourth quarter saw Lagardère Publishing's revenue increase slightly by 1.4% from €624m to €645m. The report said it was "buoyed mainly by the success of General Literature in the United Kingdom and United States, which offset the decline in Partworks and the unfavourable comparison basis linked to the success of Astérix et la Transitalique in 2017".

Its fourth-quarter results showed group revenue of €1,997m versus €1,918m in 2017, a rise of 2.1% like-for-like and of 4.1% on a consolidated basis. 

E-books accounted for 7.9% of total Lagardère revenue in 2018, while digital audio books represented 2.7% of revenue, up from 2% in 2017.

A breakdown of full-year results from Lagardère is due on 13th March.