LONDON: Hachette UK has recorded a sales uplift of 10.2% for the first half of the year, boosted by strong sales in its adult trade arm and Hodder Education. Lagardere, Hachette UK’s parent company, said the like-for-like sales surge in the UK had been led by Adult Trade titles such as John Grisham’s Camino Island and Clare Mackintosh’s I See You. Activity was also lifted by an additional billing week in the period, it said. According to Hachette UK, June was a particuarly strong month, both in trade and in education. Hodder Education outperformed the market in this month with sales in its Primary division up 56%, particuarly in assessment, English and reading, while Secondary sales were also up 25% in June against a market that was down overall, enjoyng particular success in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
With Hachette UK’s sales “well over budget” and “considerably ahead” of the same period last year in sterling terms, Hely Hutchinson called the result “a great foundation for the second half of the year”. However, he warned he expected sales at the end of 2017 to be lower than in 2016 after the storming success of Little, Brown’s Harry Potter publishing which contributed to a record-breaking 2016. “Our very strong performance is a great foundation for the second half of the year when, as ever, there is tremendous strength in depth across our lists across all our trade, educational, children’s, games and illustrated lists at home and overseas in digital as well as print,” he said. “But as the second half of 2016 broke records for us with the brilliant success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, despite the strength of our lists for the second half of 2017, we are expecting sales to be lower than in 2016.” Commenting on Hachette UK’s latest acquisition, Hely Hutchinson who is retiring at the end of this year, also took the opportunity to welcome e-book publisher Bookouture into the group during the period, remarking the business is “thriving”.
First-half revenues for Lagardere Publishing overall came in at €1,019m, up 5.1% on a consolidated basis and up 4% on a like-for-like basis (the difference put down primarily to the depreciation in the pound sterling). Recurring EBIT for Lagardere Publishing advanced sharply by €5m to €41m. Lagardere said sales had been “buoyed chiefly by good performances in the United Kingdom and United States”; US sales increased 5.4% (like-for-like), due to its Nashville division and the success of titles such as David Baldacci’s The Fix and James Patterson’s The Black Book. In France, sales retreated 3.1% (like-for-like), for which Lagardere blamed the electoral climate. The rise in returns was only partially offset by a “resilient” performance from Literature, with successes including Laetitia Colombani’s La Tresse. However, said Lagardere, “strong profitability gains in the United Kingdom more than offset the expected decline”. The contribution of e-books to Lagardère Publishing’s overall revenue fell to 8.8% in first-half 2017, versus 9.2% in first-half 2016.