Bloomsbury revenues rise as books buck the UK's retail downturn

 
Emily Nicolle
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J. K. Rowling is set to publish an illustrated version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard from the Harry Potter series in the second half of the year
J. K. Rowling is set to publish an illustrated version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard from the Harry Potter series in the second half of the year (Source: Bloomsbury)

Revenues at Bloomsbury Publishing have posted strong growth in the first six months of the year, as the group's seven-point turnaround plan starts to pay off.


Bloomsbury's share price rose 2.24 per cent as markets opened this morning.

The figures

Adjusted profit before tax for the six months to August, which excludes costs associated with Bloomsbury's £5.8m acquisition of I. B. Tauris (IBT) and other items, rose 13 per cent year-on-year to £2.9m from £2.5m in 2017.

However when taken into account, IBT took a hit to profits causing a fall of 5.8 per cent year-on-year from £1.7m to £1.6m.

Total revenues rose four per cent to £75.3m, up from £72.1m a year earlier. This was powered by a strong performance in the group's adult division, where revenue rose 22 per cent due to the implementation of the firm's Bigger Bloomsbury turnaround initiative.


In children’s trade, sales of the Harry Potter series in the first half grew by five per cent, building on the momentum of last year’s Harry Potter twentieth anniversary.

Diluted earnings per share, excluding IBT costs, rose 12 per cent to 3.14p from 2.81p in 2017. As a result, the group's interim dividend has risen five per cent to 1.21p per share.

For the year ahead, the acquisition of IBT is expected to deliver £3.5m in revenue and £300,000 in profit to the group.

Bloomsbury confirmed it is trading in line with expectations for the year, and expects its second half results to be heavily-weighted on sales due to the traditions of peaks in October's academic book sales and December's Christmas consumer sales.

Why it's interesting

Bloomsbury made a decision in May to refocus on its growing divisions through its Bigger Bloomsbury scheme, utilising targeted strategies to help boost revenues and improve margins over the next five years.

Today's results show this has started to pay off, with the adult consumer division and academic and professional divisions making a significant turnaround.

The group's digital initiatives received a boost over the period, as a result of new partnerships forged with Spotify and Yoox Net-A-Porter. Additionally, Bloomsbury has today announced a five-year digital contract with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales to utilise its online accounting and tax services.

Fidelity Personal Investing associate director Emma-Lou Montgomery said that while the acquisition of IBT was to blame for the hit in profits, the full-year revenue additions "could also spell a shift in Bloomsbury’s focus".

"A marked up-tick in sales in both its adult and academic and professional divisions is one to watch. Especially key could be the development of its digital offering."

What the company said

Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury chief executive, said:

"I am very pleased with the performance of our business over the last six months."

"These strong results, following our excellent results for the interim and full year last year, demonstrates the underlying strength, resilience and further potential of our strategy."

"We have made very good progress in all seven of our Bigger Bloomsbury initiatives focusing on our key growth drivers with targeted strategies across the Group to help grow our revenues and improve our margins over the next five years."

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