Publishing group Bloomsbury posted record results today as a pandemic-induced surge in reading continued, pushing profits to £26.7m.
Sales at the group jumped 24 per cent to £230.1m, lifting profits 40 per cent, as both the group’s consumer and non-consumer saw surging demand.
Bosses said the Harry Potter publisher had maintained pandemic momentum to deliver stellar performances across the board.
“The question on all of our minds was: would the pandemic surge in reading continue? We now know the answer: reading has become a reacquired habit and continues to thrive,” said Nigel Newton Bloomsbury chief executive.
“The pandemic made us all re-evaluate how we spend our time and this has resulted in an increase in sales of books that enable us to explore our hobbies and personal interests such as cooking, fitness, history and reading novels for enlightenment and escape.”
Bosses said overall performance had been boosted by three acquisitions during the year of ABC-CLIO LLC, the Red Globe Press list and Head of Zeus.
On top of this, shareholders are now in line for a bumper payday, with the board proposing a 24 per cent increase in the firm’s final dividend to 9.40 pence per share.
However, Newton did warn the price of books could rise in the next few months as a result of inflationary challenges.
Weighing in on this, Fiona Orford-Williams, Director at Edison Group, said: “With the worsening economic backdrop, it’s worth noting that book sales have historically held up very well in consumer downturns. The relatively low cover prices mean that they provide good value entertainment and are very suitable for the personal gifting market.”
Harry Potter effect
The iconic Harry Potter books also continue to fly off the shelf, growing five per cent in the year.
According to calculations from Enders Analysis wonk Abi Watson, she estimated that Harry Potter made up around 17 per cent of Bloomsbury total revenues in the latest financial year.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the 6th bestselling children’s book of the year on UK Nielsen Bookscan, marking a continued momentum nearly 25 years after publication.
Other UK bestsellers included Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, Tom Kerridge’s Outdoor Cooking, Animal by Lisa Taddeo and The Song of Achilles and Circe.
Consumer sales at the firm jumped 25 per cent, continuing the momentum of last year, and achieved a 25 per cent boost in profit before tax and highlighted items to £17.8m.
Meanwhile non-consumer sales jumped 23 per cent revenue growth and a 68 per cent increase in profit before tax and highlighted items to £9.1m.