HarperCollins global revenues fell 4.4% in the financial year ending 30th June, including a 3% decline in the fourth quarter, according to figures from parent firm News Corp.
Full year revenues were $88m down to $1.676bn from $1.754bn the previous year, the report said. Segment earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell $38m (15%) from the previous year “primarily due to lower revenues, partially offset by lower costs from lower sales volumes and cost savings”.
The revenue declines were partially blamed on higher sales the previous year of titles by Rachel Hollis, Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
However, the publisher did see success with books including Magnolia Table, Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier by Ree Drummond. Meanwhile, digital sales increased 7% compared to the previous year, representing 23% of consumer revenues for the year.
For the fourth quarter alone, revenue fell $12m from $417m the previous year. However, segment EBITDA actually increased $4m (9%) on the previous year “due to cost savings and the mix of titles”.
The company blamed the quarterly revenue decline primarily on lower retail sales of foreign language titles and Christian publishing due to lockdown store closures. However, the digital sales boom was marked over lockdown, up 26% compared to the previous year, primarily driven by growth in e-book sales, particularly in General and Children's.
News Corp as a whole posted a revenue decline of 11% for the fiscal year, with declines for its newspaper businesses in the UK and Australia alongside its Foxtel subscription business.
Chief executive Robert Thomson said: “Across the company, we have taken stringent action to reduce costs, and the benefits of those cuts will be felt in coming quarters. We have also launched a Shared Services program that we believe will transform the company, by centralising many of our functions. We are confident that this programme should appreciably cut costs and expect it to have a materially positive impact on our bottom line.”