'Strong' third quarter for Hachette despite Potter fall-off

'Strong' third quarter for Hachette despite Potter fall-off

Hachette UK's revenues in the third quarter of 2017 were "strong" and "ahead of budget", with digital sales "considerably up", c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson has said. However the publisher saw a year-on-year revenue drop of 13.5%, parent company Lagardere announced, saying the fall was "as expected", due to the success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown) in the third quarter of 2016.

Lagardere said Hachette UK's Adult Trade division had turned in a "strong" performance in the latest quarter thanks to releases including Martina Cole's Damaged and four new Famous Five titles.

Hely Hutchinson commented: "Hachette UK had a strong Q3 with sales ahead of budget but below 2016 because of the comparison with the record-breaking sales of the original hardback edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the same period last year. Digital sales in the quarter – even excluding Bookouture - are considerably up on 2016. Neilsen records a 25% increase in Hachette UK’s e-book sales vs 2016, and with the inclusion of Bookouture the picture is even stronger. Digital sales are further boosted by healthy double digit growth in audio downloads."

Key titles highlighted in the quarter included the paperback of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent from Little, Brown, Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece (Headline), David Lagercrantz’s The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Quercus) and new novels from Michael Connelly (Orion) and John Grisham and Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton), Martina Cole’s Damaged (Headline), David Attenborough’s Adventures of a Young Naturalist (John Murray) and Sabrina Ghayour’s Feast (Octopus).

Hely Hutchinson continued: "Hodder Education had a particularly robust Q3, with further market share gains at home and overseas. Hachette Children’s Group’s share of the TCM is up 9.4% on 2016."

He picked out HCG prize wins including The Evening Standard’s Oscar Book Prize (The Koala Who Could), the Waterstones Prize for older fiction and the YA Book prize (Patrice Lawrence’s Orange Boy), as well as the number one success of Cressida Cowell’s The Wizards of Once, adding that Kes Gray and Jim Field’s Oi Cat!, Miranda Hart’s The Girl with the Lost Smile and Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend "are selling well at home and in export markets, in the run-up to Christmas."

Largardere Publishing revenue as a total in the nine months to 30th September 2017 came in at €1,665m, up 1.5% like-for-like (up 1.2% on a consolidated basis). Lagardere reported a good performance in Partworks (up 9.3%) and in the United States (up 2.2%), which it said offset the "lacklustre activity in the United Kingdom" that had resulted from the unfavourable year-on-year comparison.

In the third quarter, revenue was down 2.1% like-for-like and down 4.3% on a consolidated basis at €646m, although education posted a particularly good performance, driven by curricular reform in France. Third quarter revenues in France climbed 6% while Partworks delivered "bullish growth", up 12.1%, led according to Lagardere by a record number of new titles in July and August and by a good backlist performance, especially in Japan and Spain. Revenues however fell in the US (down 2.8%), reflecting a lighter release schedule, it said, and in the Spain/Latin America region (down 11.5%). E-books accounted for 7.2% of total Lagardere Publishing revenue in third-quarter 2017, versus 6.8% in third-quarter 2016.