Hachette UK sales slip 1.4% in 2019

Hachette UK sales slip 1.4% in 2019

Hachette UK’s revenue fell 1.4% in 2019, parent company Lagardère has reported in its full-year results, after the publisher struggled to emulate the success ofafter the publisher struggled to emulate the success of some major 2018 hits, including Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

David Shelley, Hachette UK c.e.o., said 2019 was "a strong year for the company", although it "didn’t have a book in 2019 on the scale of 2018’s Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff or Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J K Rowling".

In particular Shelley noted "good performances" from Billy Connolly’s Tall Tales and Wee Stories (John Murray Press), Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner (Hodder &Stoughton), Glastonbury 50 by Emily Eavis (Orion), The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Orion), Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Little, Brown), as well as new titles from Martina Cole, Ian Rankin, John Grisham, Stephen King and Michael Connelly.

New acquisitions Short Books and TeeJay Maths, bought respectively by Octopus in June 2019 and by Hodder Education in April 2019, "continued to perform well", he said. Bookouture–which last month announced the imminent departure of founder Oliver Rhodes—meanwhile had "a record year".

"Despite a challenging time for the whole UK education market, Hodder Education increased its market share in the UK and international markets," Shelley said further. Secondary and Further Education were "particular standouts", he said, with "notable growth" in Further Education.

Sales for Lagardère Publishing totalled €2,384m for the year, up 5.9% on a consolidated basis and up 2.8% like for like. Lagardère Publishing revenue was €677m in the fourth quarter of 2019, up 5% on a consolidated basis and up 1.7% like for like. 

Revenue growth in 2019 was attributed to the publication of a new Asterix album in late October 2019, as well as "a good performance" in Educationparticularly in France and Spain, spurred by curriculum reform – and "sustained growth" in Partworks and Mobile Games.

France posted 6.3% revenue growth, where general literature also had "a good year" (buoyed by the large-format version of Guillaume Musso’s La Vie secrète des écrivains and growth in Le Livre de Poche paperbacks) and Spain/Latin America was up 10.3%. However the United States slipped 1%—there was "a sharp rise in revenue from digital audiobooks", led by Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers and Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher late in the year, but it also faced "an unfavourable comparison effect with 2018" from the success of James Patterson and Bill Clinton’s The President is Missing and Nicholas Sparks’ Every Breath. Partworks delivered revenue growth of 4.9%, "reflecting the good performance of first-half launches (particularly models and leisure crafts) in Japan, Germany and France". E-books accounted for 7.7% of total Lagardère Publishing revenue in 2019 versus 7.9% in 2018, while digital audiobooks represented 3.4% of revenue versus 2.7% in 2018. 

Lagardère Publishing reported €220m in recurring EBIT, up €20m on 2018, which was helped also by growth in audiobooks and a new "cost efficiency plan" in the US, and the appreciation of the US dollar.