March 30, 2023

Popularity: Novels by Sarah J. Maas (photo) were very popular with customers

Bloomsbury Publishing delivered another half-year record performance as readers continued to buy academic books and children’s titles.

The London-based group saw total sales rise 22 per cent to £122.9 million and profits rose 18 per cent to £10.1 million in the six months ended August when measured against the previous year.

As usual, the Harry Potter series continued to be one of the publisher’s biggest earners, boosting sales in the children’s trade division by 30 percent to £50.6 million.

Purchases of these books shot up more than a third during the period, compared to just 5 percent in the previous 12 months, given the resurgence in popularity of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was published 25 years ago.

The novels by American fantasy writer Sarah J. Maas were also popular with customers, with an annual growth of 45 percent.

Popular selling titles include two in her Crescent City series, the newly released House of Sky and Breath and House of Earth and Blood, both of which became New York Times bestsellers.

Other recent Bloomsbury hits include cookbooks by the likes of Paul Hollywood, Angela Hartnett and Tom Kerridge, or illustrated works by children’s author Martha Mumford.

“During this cost of living, books continue to be an affordable treat,” said Nigel Newton, founder and general manager of Bloomsbury.

“Reading offers a form of escapism and an ideal – and cheap – therapy for dealing with the stresses and strains of everyday life.”

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Newton further highlighted the successful expansion of the Bloomsbury Digital Resources arm, whose profits more than doubled to £6.6m following the acquisitions of California-based ABC-CLIO and Red Globe Press (RGP).

The acquisition of the former group by Bloomsbury was part of a strategy to increase the presence of academic and digital publishers in the United States, the world’s largest academic market.

The purchase saw sales in the company’s non-consumer division increase by almost a quarter to £46.6 million and profit before tax by more than half to £7.1 million.

Since the pandemic started two and a half years ago, the company has seen sales soar as people tried to spend the increasing amount of time they spent indoors.

Trade has remained strong since lockdown restrictions were eased, with half-year sales increasing 57 percent from 2020, while pre-tax profits are up 327 percent.

The value of Bloomsbury Publishing Shares has increased by about 94 percent in the past two years. They rose 5.9 percent to 432.5 pence late Wednesday afternoon.

Analyst at Investec reiterated their buy recommendation for Bloomsbury stocks, saying: “The virtuous flywheel in Bloomsbury clearly remains.”

They added: “Previous investments in high-quality content are fueling strong customer demand, generating cash flows to fund further investments that support future growth, somewhat regardless of the underlying macroeconomic environment.”

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