Final quarter flourish at Hachette

News - Publishing Thursday, 07 February 2019

Hachette sales growth in last quarter of 2018 driven by strong performance in general literature; digital dead flat across wider group at 8% of sales

Hachette parent Lagardère has released its fourth quarter 2018 results this morning, saying: 'Good business momentum in the United Kingdom (up 8.9% on a like-for-like basis) was mainly driven by the success of General Literature, particularly J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to the Big Questions.' The American division saw growth of 6.3%.

UK chief executive David Shelley said: "Hachette UK had a very strong Q4, building on successful results in the first half of the year. 2018 was a particularly strong year in non-fiction: a cluster of significant bestsellers in Q4 including Listening to the Animals: Becoming a Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick and The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book (both published by Trapeze), Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to Big Questions (John Murray), Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape by Gino D’Campo (Hodder & Stoughton) and Michael Caine’s Blowing the Bloody Doors Off (Hodder & Stoughton) continued the group’s strong performance in non-fiction established earlier in the year when highlights included Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (Little, Brown) and Factfulness by Hans Rosling (Sceptre), and Deliciously Ella: the Plant-Based Cookbook (Yellow Kite).

"Amongst the biggest fiction sellers in the last quarter were Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, (Sphere), John Grisham’s The Reckoning (Hodder & Stoughton), In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin (Orion), Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald by JK Rowling (Little, Brown) and Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons (Bookouture).

"Hachette ended the year with a market share of 12.7%, up from 12.6% in 2017 and despite a squeeze in educational markets, Hodder Education finished the year the third largest publisher with a 23% share of the market.

"Following Octopus’ move into the Hely Hutchinson Centre in August, Little, Brown and Orion became the second and third group publishers to move to the new centre in October. The remaining group and 3rd party publishers are moving in in rapid succession during the first half of this year. LBS will close for business in the spring.

"2019 has begun with a flourish with strong ongoing sales of some Christmas bestsellers and publication of a number of paperback bestsellers including Clare Mackintosh’s Let Me Lie (Little, Brown), Peter May’s The Man With No Face (Quercus) and Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend (Headline)."

Across the whole of Lagardère fourth quarter revenue came in at €1,997m versus €1,918m in fourth-quarter 2017, a rise of 2.1% like-for-like and of 4.1% on a consolidated basis. For 2018 in total revenue was €7,258m, up 3.3% like-for-like.

In the fourth quarter Lagardère Publishing saw revenue edge up 1.4%, 'buoyed mainly by the success of General Literature in the United Kingdom and United States, which offset the decline in Partworks and the unfavourable comparison basis linked to the success of Astérix et la Transitalique in 2017. Revenue in the fourth quarter reached €645m, up from €624m in 2017.'

Across the full year revenue at the publishing division reached €2,252m, down from €2,289m in 2017. According to the results statement: 'As expected, the slight decline in business in 2018 essentially reflects the absence of curriculum reform in France and to a lesser extent in Spain, as well as an unfavourable comparison effect linked to the success of Astérix et la Transitalique in 2017 in these same regions.

'These factors were partly countered by good momentum in the United States, driven by the success of best-selling titles such as the Bill Clinton and James Patterson novel The President is Missing and Nicholas Sparks’ Every Breath, along with good performances at Perseus. Over the year as a whole, Education was down 13.4% or €49 million, with the decline offset in part by a strong performance from General Literature, which gained 2.2% or €22 million. E-books accounted for 7.9% of total Lagardère Publishing revenue in 2018, with the proportion remaining stable versus 2017, while Digital audio books represented 2.7% of revenue versus 2.0% in 2017.'

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