Osprey marks anniversary with growth

<p>Military history specialist Osprey Publishing has recorded UK sales growth of 19% over the year to end-September, marking its 40th anniversary with an &quot;impressive&quot; performance. Osprey&#39;s m.d Rebecca Smart attributed the strong UK sales to a number of factors, including the redesign of its website, incorporating a blog and discussion forums, a members-only database of historical information and the launch of a book-related games series. Online revenues accounted for one-third of overall sales, Smart said.</p><p>In the US, where Osprey also operates, the company recorded sales growth of less than half - 8% - the UK&#39;s figures. The regions account for 45% of Osprey&#39;s sales each.</p><p>Looking to the year ahead, Smart said although Osprey was relatively protected from the downturn because of its passionate readers, she acknowledged next year would be tougher. She said: &quot;Our customers are serious about this subject, and the money they spend is not necessarily disposable income, it is a major part of their lives. But it&#39;s fair to say the UK economy tends to follow the US, and although we are optimistic about next year, we feel we will need to drive hard to keep sales going.&quot;</p><p>Smart added: &quot;It is going to be a challenge. I wouldn&#39;t say we were feeling bullish, but I think we can continue to grow.&quot;</p><p>As part of its plans for expansion, the firm is planning to launch a new series in the autumn of 2009, as well as publishing out-of-print titles as e-books. Smart said by the end of next year Osprey would have &quot;a couple of hundred&quot; e-books available. </p><p>The company did not release figures for the most recent period. Ospreys&#39;s last financial accounts, to the end of December 2007, showed turnover of &pound;5.6m, an increase over the previous year of 3.7%. The firm reported a pretax loss of &pound;259,000, down from &pound;412,000 in 2006, with an interest charge of &pound;364,000, compared with &pound;511,000 a year earlier. The accounts stated that the &quot;significant reduction in interest burden will be even more evident in the 2008 results&quot;.</p>