HC blames "exceptionally difficult financial year"

<p>HarperCollins has said its most recent financial year was &quot;exceptionally difficult&quot; after profits at the worldwide business collapsed from $160m to $17m.</p><p>Brian Murray, global c.e.o. of HarperCollins, described the year as &quot;challenging&quot;. He said: &quot;Obviously, external factors affected our performance. The general decline in the overall market, the decline in backlist reorders, the [US distributor] Anderson News bankruptcy, and on the international side we faced bad debt charges in the UK with the EUK bankruptcy. We have a good fall list and are looking forward to a new year.&quot; </p><p>As well as operating income slumping by 89.3%, publishing turnover also dropped significantly, down by 17.8% from $1.38bn to $1.14bn.</p><p>Describing the performance of the UK arm, Victoria Barnsley, c.e.o. and publisher of HarperCollins UK, blamed the global economic slump, last November&#39;s collapse of wholesaler Entertainment UK and Woolworths and an injection of resources into its pension fund following the stock market decline for the results. </p><p>In a statement, Barnsley said: &quot;[It] was an exceptionally difficult year which saw a global economic slump, the collapse of EUK/Woolworths and more resources directed at our pension fund as a result of the stock market decline.</p><p>&quot;In February, we restructured the company to better prepare for the future business environment. During this year, the book market declined by 3.5% which compares favourably with many other retail sectors. HarperCollins managed to buck that trend slightly at 3.4% down, outperforming all the other major publishers.&quot; </p><p>HarperCollins declined to discuss its operating income for the UK business. Barnsley identified as successes the performance of Cecelia Ahern&#39;s <em>Thanks for the Memories</em> and <em>The Gift</em>, Bernard Cornwell&#39;s <em>Azincourt</em>, <em>Look Who It Is</em> by Alan Carr, James Wong&#39;s <em>Grow Your Own Drugs</em>; Jade Goody&#39;s diary <em>Forever in my Heart</em>; Hilary Mantel&#39;s <em>Wolf Hall</em> and Michael Bond&#39;s <em>Paddington Rules the Waves.</em> </p><p>She added that the education division&#39;s profit rose 15% year on year and the publisher had three of the six shortlisted books in the Samuel Johnson prize, including the winner <em>Leviathan.</em></p><p>On a global level, publishing revenue and profit also fell in the most recent quarter. Turnover dropped from $350m to $278m, a fall of 20.5%. The publishing division made a loss of $1m in the three months to 30th June, down from an operating income of $28m in the same period last year.</p><p>HC&#39;s parent company NewsCorp posted a net loss of $3.4bn for the year, compared to a net income of $5.4bn in the 2008 financial period. In the fourth quarter, it posted a net loss of $203m, compared to income of $1.1bn in the same period a year ago. Revenue for the full year fell from $32.99bn to $30.42bn.</p>