The History Press shrinks pre-tax losses

The History Press shrinks pre-tax losses

The History Press has shrunk pre-tax losses to under £1m for 2010, down from £1.4m the previous year. Using an EBITA measure (recorded earnings before interest, tax and depreciation) the company recorded earnings of £481,000 for the year, compared to £46,000 in 2009.

The Stroud-based local publisher reported a pre-tax loss of £960,000 in the year to 31st December 2010, an improvement on a £1.43m pre-tax loss in 2009. For 2010, group turnover was £11.4m, down on £11.75m in 2009. Turnover in the UK was £6.068m, down marginally on £6.083m, with sales overseas, not including Europe, growing from £1.48m in 2009 to £1.77m in 2010. Staff numbers grew slightly from 150 to 158.

Finance director Gareth Swain said the publisher had a local history market share of about 25% through Nielsen in 2010, and said that in the US the publisher is experiencing a 25% year-on-year increase in sales. He said: "That's where our growth numbers are . . . We think local history is not as full a market as Europe, so there is less competition." He said, globally, The History Press published 1,106 new titles in 2010, with roughly 40% of the publishing in the UK.

Swain said 2010 saw improvement "through better publishing" and "a more organised structure" within the UK business. Swain added that the appointment of Tim Davies as its sales and marketing director this July, a role that had been vacant since Martin Palmer left the company in 2008, was key to the publisher going forward. He said: "The market is changing, so trying to find new ways to tap into new markets that certainly exist is crucial."

On the economic climate, Swain added: "Everyone in publishing has been hit this year, particularly by Waterstone's, we have been sheltered to an extent; an example of this would be Pitkin Books—we did two Kate and William books, they've done particularly well—although we like everyone have suffered, we have made it up in other ways."

Looking ahead, Swain said he felt Waterstone's' new focus could be beneficial for the publisher. He said: "What's good about Waterstone's is it is a community bookshop; getting local books should bolster sales for Waterstone's and for us. We have the strongest list, in terms of new local series—our Then and Now series, a fantastic range of Titanic titles—that anyone here can remember."

On its digital publishing programme, Swain said The History Press plans to have 500 e-books available by Christmas, and said so far its best month of digital sales saw 2% of total trade being made up of e-book sales.

The results represent the third full year of trading for The History Press Limited, following a turbulent period for the company which went into administration in November 2007. Private equity partner Octopus Investments continued its backing and rescued the business.