Lonely Planet returns to profit

Lonely Planet returns to profit

<p>Lonely Planet has reversed its losses, with a profit of &pound;1.9m for its latest financial year driven by &quot;significant digital investment&quot;, parent company BBC Worldwide has said.</p><p>The results account for an improvement in profits of &pound;5.1m on the previous year, when Lonely Planet made a loss of &pound;3.2m. Sales for the 12 months ending 31st March 2010 were up &pound;8.4m to &pound;51.4m, growth of 19.5%. </p><p>BBCW said: &quot;In its primary book markets of the UK, US, and Australia, the company grew market share. This resulted from a strong set of new titles, including a new Discover series offering highlights of destinations in full colour. However, book sales remain depressed with total volumes in these primary markets down some 25% compared with the situation prior to the global financial crisis in 2007.&quot;</p><p>It described the publisher&#39;s digital performance as &quot;strong&quot;, with digital sales up 37.2% year on year. When BBC Worldwide first acquired a majority stake in Lonely Planet in 2007, digital sales accounted for 9% of sales. Last year, digital was 22% of revenue. Traffic on Lonelyplanet.com was up 17% year on year.</p><p>Among the highlights the parent company identified were Lonely Planet&#39;s free and discounted City Guides for the Apple app store. In April, when volcanic ash disrupted flights across Europe, the publisher offered selected titles to travellers with 3m downloads during the month. </p><p>BBCW added downloads of some non-promoted guides increased by more than 500% during the year.</p><p>John Smith, c.e.o. of BBC Worldwide, said: &quot;During the year, despite the extraordinarily difficult conditions for the travel industry, this travel information business moved strongly into profit following a period of significant digital investment.&quot;</p><p>The results came amid a rocky year for BBC Worldwide, whose purchase of the travel publisher was criticised by a House of Commons select committee as &quot;the most egregious example&quot; of the company&#39;s expansion beyond its existing remit and raised concerns it could be sold. However, it escaped the BBC cutbacks announced in March.</p><p>BBC Worldwide revealed sales increased by 7.0% to &pound;1.074bn for the financial year, while profit was up 36.5% to &pound;145m.</p><p><a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/95736-bbc-looks-to-offload-audiobooks-... sion.html" target="_blank">BBC Worldwide reiterated that it was pursuing strategic options for its audiobooks business, &quot;particularly through a disposal&quot;.</a> It said digital downloads increased by 29% but said the business was &quot;strategically non-core&quot;. </p>