JS Group focuses on Aspire growth as revenues fall

JS Group focuses on Aspire growth as revenues fall

JS Group has reported a growth in its Aspire revenue as the academic bookselling group reaffirms the “transitioning and re-positioning of the business.”

For the financial year to 31st May 2018, JS Group revenues fell 10% from £38.2m prior year to £34.2m, with a profit of £0.145m and cash generated from operating activities of £1.26m. 

Overall UK Higher Education revenues declined by 3.1% compared to the prior year. Aspire revenues continued to grow and 2017/18 saw the 11th consecutive year of growth for the bursary scheme.

JS Group said: “Most Aspire schemes are now managed not alongside a store but with on-campus Engagement Partners and Student Ambassadors. These schemes saw 20% growth in 2017/18. The overall Aspire growth was offset by declines in our store sales.” 

During the year, two new Aspire schemes went live at York St John University and Birmingham City University and four new Aspire contracts were secured for schemes that went live at the start of the 2018/19 academic year at University College Birmingham, University of Salford, University of Sunderland and Teesside University. JS Group said a “record number of students” benefited from the bursary scheme.

Chairman and c.e.o. Peter Gray said: “Our strategic focus is on developing our market leading Aspire services in the UK and on working with an ever increasing number of universities and students. To help sharpen our focus we made the decision to sell both JS International and our Hammicks business and I am delighted that both businesses have found excellent new homes. Our new Aspire schemes performed well in 2017/18 and the new 2018/19 schemes have got off to a tremendous start. I was particularly pleased to see that our new model of support based around Engagement Partners is performing very well. There remains significant sector interest in Aspire and we remain confident of signing more new Aspire contracts this year to go live in the 2019/20 academic year.”

JS International saw revenues decline by 57% compared to the prior year. Revenues were severely impacted by changes to the Government funding of students in Botswana, said the JS Group. As previously announced, JS Group sold JS International to Van Schaik the leading South African academic bookseller on 1st August 2018.

Hammicks revenue declined by 10% compared to the previous year largely due to the on-off benefit of a title in the prior year. Like for like sales were flat. As previously announced, to enable JS Group to focus on its core UK Higher Education market, Hammicks was sold to the specialist legal bookseller Wildy & Sons on 21st December 2018.