Penguin sales, profits up

Nicholas Clee
News - Publishing 02 Mar 2009

Penguin has posted a strong set of results in difficult economic circumstances, with profits up 26% to £93m and sales up 7% to £903m. The figures, representing a margin of 10.3%, achieved Penguin's target of a double-digit ratio of profit to sales. The results were boosted by the strength of the dollar. Nevertheless, Penguin said, there was underlying growth in sales and profits of 3% and 4% respectively, even after a debt write-off following the collapse of Woolworths and the distributor EUK. The publisher cited 'a company-wide focus on margin improvement through operational efficiency, consistent and disciplined investment in author and product development and the development of a globally coordinated publishing organisation benefiting from worldwide scale'.

In the UK, where the Bookseller reported that the Penguin Group's sales through BookScan Total Consumer Market declined slightly with market share going up, Penguin enjoyed bestsellers from, among others, Sebastian Faulks (the Bond sequel Devil May Care), Marian Keyes, and Jamie Oliver. Penguin Classics had 'its best ever year'. In children's, the Brands and Licensing Division 'had a stand-out year', while Puffin had bestsellers from Eoin Colfer, Cathy Cassidy, and Charlie Higson. Dorling Kindersley's Brady Games 'delivered very strong year-on-year growth', International Product Licensing grew sales by 8%, and Digital Licensing grew sales by 300%. DK Eyewitness was 'the only major travel guide publisher to grow sales and market share in the UK'; and Penguin Travel signed content deals with companies including Visa Europe and MSN.
Penguin US had a 'very strong year'. In Australia, Penguin was Publisher of the Year, and grew sales ahead of the market. Penguin Canada was also Publisher of the Year, and Penguin South Africa was Trade Publisher of the Year. Penguin India launched the Allen Lane imprint, and won literary awards including Vodafone Crossword award for Best Book fiction for A Girl and a River by Usha K R, and Best Book non-fiction for The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.
Worldwide, Penguin increased its ebook sales fivefold. The publisher's digital initiatives in the UK included a dating website, a Penguin Classics blog, and the teen community site Spinebreakers.
For 2009, Penguin UK is looking forward to new titles by Antony Beevor, Ant and Dec, Dara O'Briain, Diarmaid McCulloch, Jamie Oliver, Jeremy Clarkson, Eoin Colfer, Sue Townsend, Nick Hornby, Dick and Felix Francis, Marian Keyes, Jane Green, Clive Cussler, Cathy Cassidy, Lauren Child, Meg Rosoff, and Charlie Higson.
Pearson, Penguin's parent, reported preliminary results up 8% at constant exchange rates to £4,811m (2007: £4,162), and adjusted operating profit up 11% to £762m (2007: £619m), with margins up to 15.8% (2007: 14.9%). Pearson's share price this morning was 656.50p, up 3p.

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