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Bloomsbury Publishing expects gradual recovery in book sales from July amid coronavirus pandemic

Print book orders accounted for almost four-fifths of Bloomsbury’s revenues in the year to February

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Adult consumer sales were strong

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (LON:BMY) has said it is basing its outlook on a gradual recovery in book sales to begin in July amid the coronavirus pandemic, the firm revealed alongside its latest annual results on Wednesday.

That would be a severe downside scenario, it added, but on this basis it has sufficient financial headroom to cope.

Costs have been cut across the business, said chief executive Nigel Newton and the company has assumed print revenues decline by 65% over the period to July before starting to pick up again through to March 2021.

Print book orders accounted for almost four-fifths of Bloomsbury’s revenues in the year to February and these have been severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, he said, even though demand has increased for digital, audio and e-books.  

The issues were affecting all its markets, he added, though warehouses remain open and continue supply to customers.

The final dividend of 6.89p per share is also to be paid in shares rather than cash if shareholders approve, something Bloomsbury indicated in April.

Newton added that up until February it had been a year of further growth for the publisher. Full-year revenues rose slightly to £163mln while profits rose 10% to £13.2mln.

“Our Non-Consumer division delivered an excellent result with profit before tax and highlighted items up by 85% to £6.7 million, including outstanding revenue growth of 32% from Bloomsbury Digital Resources, which moved into profit this year,” the chief executive said in the results statement.

The Adult Consumer division achieved 77% growth in profit before tax.

Sales of Harry Potter titles were stable, said Bloomsbury, with the best-selling adult titles: Dishoom: From Bombay with Love Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar and Naved Nasir; Tom Kerridge's Lose Weight & Get Fit, the global bestseller and The Anarchy by William Dalrymple.

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