Monday 26 April 2021 9:04 am

Pearson sales jump as demand for online learning soars

Global education firm Pearson said strong demand for online learning courses helped the group post a five per cent rise in underlying revenue growth in the first three months of the year.

Shares in the education group rose more than 2.5 per cent on the update to 822p this morning

Delivering a quarterly trading update, Pearson said it expected to continue to deliver revenue and profit growth in 2021.

The UK company has repositioned itself as a consumer-facing group offering skills and training beyond its schools and college remit.

Trading was boosted by a 25 per cent jump in demand for programmes in its Global Online Learning division, as people around the world enrolled for courses at virtual schools.

Pearson’s update comes less than a week after chair Sidney Taurel said he will step down after a row with shareholders over handing new chief executive Andy Bird a £7.2m sign on bonus.

“It’s been a good start to the year for Pearson, delivering five per cent sales growth in the quarter,” Chief Executive Andy Bird said.

“This is despite a longer period of disruption from Covid-19 in the quarter compared to last year.”

Pearson was hit during the pandemic when restrictions forced schools to close and exams to be cancelled, sending its annual profit down by 40 per cent.

The group plans to increasingly offer online courses to people looking to retrain after the pandemic.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that Pearson is “re-writing the book” on virtual education.

“The pandemic has massively increased the demand for digital testing and learning, and lit a fire underneath Pearson’s efforts to rejuvenate. On paper, the idea has a lot of merit.

“Digital courseware sales should be more lucrative, and a digital subscriber base should mean a higher proportion of revenue is recurring.”