The Quarto Group has rebranded its publishing divisions, and announced what c.e.o. Marcus Leaver called a "solid performance" for 2013.
The business saw a slight dip in revenue for the year ended 31st December 2013, with a revenue of $176.3m, down 2.5% from $180.9m in 2012.
Profit before tax dropped to $5.8m, down 18% from $7.1m in 2012, but the company reported that underlying profits before taxation stood at $11.5m, up slightly from $11.4m in 2012. Quarto also reduced its debts, down 12% from $81m to $71m, selling off The World of Fine Wine Magazine, The Image Factory and the freehold of Quarto's London head office.
Leaver said: "Overall, this is a solid performance, even with challenging circumstances in Australia and New Zealand, proving how robust our portfolio is. A stronger, more coherent Quarto has emerged from the initial phase of the Strategic Review. We shall continue to target further improvement to allow Quarto to reduce debt and grow earnings in 2014 and beyond."
While overall group revenues dipped, the company's publishing divisions saw growth, led mainly by the US.
The publisher also noted that 71% of its revenues is coming from backlist sales. Leaver told The Bookseller: "I think we are completely unique in terms of having as much backlist as we have, partly due to us being illustrated publishers, and partly because we are so international. 70% is a remarkable figure. In a sense we are more like a music publisher than a fiction publisher."
A rebrand sees the Aurum Publishing Group renamed as Quarto Publishing Group UK, while the Quayside Publishing Group becomes Quarto Publishing Group USA. The Quarto International Co-editions Group remains unchanged, but a new visual identity will be applied across the separate divisions. Imprints within the divisions will remain as they are.
Leaver told The Bookseller: "Historically we've acquired an awful lot of companies, and it has become difficult to explain who is a Quarto company and who isn't. At a recent meeting in the US I had a Quarto business card, a colleague had an Aurum card and another had a Quayside card, but we were all from the same business. This is a customer-led approach, I don’t think people in bookshops care whether it's a Quarto book or not, but it's a sensible decision driven by our sales and marketing teams.
As well as the rebranding, Quarto has announced the creation of a new display marketing business in Australia and New Zealand called Books & Gifts Direct, a consolidation of two Quarto businesses, Lifetime Distributors and Premier Books. Leaver said the move would "turn around" the business after "a poor year", which he attributed to Australia's economic climate.
Quarto also announced a joint venture agreement in Brazil, with Grupo Nobel, a subsidiary of Brazil Franchising. Quarto's publishing businesses will supply adult illustrated non-fiction titles to Nobel's publishing businesses, which will be distributed out to stores in the country this year under the Quarto Editora imprint, focusing on categories such as cookery, beauty and self-help.
Leaver said: "It was all a matter of finding the right partner, and we have done that. Brazil is a hugely exciting market to be in, and as they say, you have to be in it to win it."