Hachette UK and Commonwealth sees 8% sales drop in first half

Hachette UK and Commonwealth sees 8% sales drop in first half

Hachette UK is looking to exceptionally strong autumn publishing after recording an 8% sales drop for the UK and Commonwealth in the first half of 2012.

The Lagardere group has announced flat like-for-like net sales for the period, down 0.2% to €3,389m. Lagardere Publishing reported net sales of €905m, down 2.5% like-for-like, due to "substantial market contraction", with the worst affected countries Spain (down 10%), the UK (down 7.6%), the US (down 4%) and France (down 2.9%). Profitability fell 1.6% to 6.3%. Lagardere attributed the UK result to the negative impact of "trends in trade publishing and the bankruptcy of RedGroup".

E-books showed continued growth, accounting for 8.4% of Lagardere Publishing's total net sales, and 23% of adult trade sales in the UK at end-June 2012 (27% in the US).

In a separate statement, Hachette UK said it had recorded a "solid" first half of 2012, slightly ahead of budget, with growth of 170% year-on-year in digital sales. Top-selling digital titles were Jennifer Worth's Call The Midwife (Orion), Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs (Little, Brown), Patricia Cornwell's Red Mist (Little, Brown), Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn (Atom) and Michael Connelly's The Drop (Orion).

Titles published by the group accounted for 20% of the published Sunday Times bestseller lists, including 13 number one bestseller in the period, including Anthony Beevor's Second World War, Val McDermid's The Retribution and Good as Dead by Mark Billingham, the latter two both the authors' first number one titles.

Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson said: "At the beginning of this year, I said that 2012 was exceptionally promising and a new beginning for Hachette UK and we have made a very solid start. The main reason for my optimism, however, is that I know we have possibly the strongest list the group has ever published in the second half of this year." He cited "absolute bankers" in non-fiction from authors including Miranda Hart, Will Young and Michael Palin, as well as fiction from major names including Martina Cole, Jodi Picoult and Stephen King, together with, "very sadly", Maeve Binchy's final novel.

Hely Hutchinson also promised publication of J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy on 27th September would be "a global event", saying: "Our plans here, in the US and in all our territories will ensure that we deliver an outstanding international campaign entirely in keeping with the themes of the novel and the enormous worldwide affection and respect that the author inspires."