Strong first half for Bloomsbury

Strong first half for Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury Group has recorded a 13% rise in turnover in the first half of the year to £49.2m (£43.5m in 2012), with pre-tax profit up 33% to £1.1m (£0.9m).

Print sales rose 13% to £39.6m (£34.9m in 2012) while digital sales increased 22% to £5.8m (£4.8m). Digital sales are now 12% of Group sales, up from 11% in the same period last year. E-book sales were up 58% year-on-year in the UK, with chief executive Nigel Newton noting that the publisher was not seeing a slowdown in the UK rate of growth during 2013. However in the US e-book sales were down 20%, "following bestsellers last year".

Bloomsbury's Adult division was a star performer, with revenue up 16% to £23.2m and operating profit rising 77% year-on-year to £1.1m. Newton commented that, in this division, "Digital sales make up an ever more important element of our sales and activity but print is showing resilience way beyond many predictions." The strength of the first half new book programme, including novels from Khaled Hosseini, Margaret Atwood and Samantha Shannon, was cited, with executive director Richard Charkin also pointing to "significant growth" in the cookery list, said to be selling well across all retail channels.

Meanwhile the academic and professional segment of Bloomsbury's business also showed strong growth, with the division representing 43% of Group adjusted operating profit in the first half (up from 27% in 2012). Recent acquisitions Fairchild Books and Applied Visual Arts Publishing contributed £0.9m of profit during the period. Revenue was up 13% year-on-year to £13.9m and profit up 117% to £1.2m. Digital revenue stood at 9% of revenue, up from 7% in 2012.

The publisher also announced a new platform, Bloomsbury Collections, to be launched in March 2014, which will deliver collections of scholarly e-books for the library market. The site will launch with around 1,700 books in 12 subject areas, including both current research publications and material from the backlists of imprints including Continuum, Berg and the Arden Shakespeare, to meet "growing demand for e-books from academic libraries worldwide". In future, all newly published academic monographs are to go directly onto the Bloomsbury Collections site in digital form.

The children's and educational division saw revenue up 12% year-on-year to £10.4m (£9.3m in 2012) but operating profit was nil, as last year, "partly reflecting the investment we have made in staff for our new illustrated and activity books list".

Newton expressed confidence in Bloomsbury's autumn offerings, including Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds, Masterchef: The Finalists and Elizabeth Gilbert's "remarkable" novel The Signature of All Things,  now at number three on the New York Times bestseller list.

Asked about consumer confidence in the pre-Christmas period, Newton commented: "The recurrent evidence is you're as good as your list. If you've got the right books, there are plenty of people out there wanting to buy them in whatever format. It's about getting the books right—nothing's changed."