Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury has released its second earnings upgrade of the year, hailing a locked reading boom, but the trend may not continue as restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic are lifted for summer.
The publisher, who last released a profit upgrade in January, said February also turned out to be “exceptional” as readers sought entertainment during the third stay-at-home order of the United Kingdom.
Sales were driven by recently released titles including A Court of Silver Flames, the latest episode in a series about women warlords from fantasy writer Sarah J Maas, and Anna North’s Outlawed, which features the daughter of ‘a midwife on the run in 19th century America. In terms of the backlist, the ever popular and evergreen Harry Potter books continue to have strong sales, as does the Dishoom cookbook.
Bloomsbury expects full-year revenue to exceed revised expectations of £ 171million and adjusted pre-tax profit to be ‘significantly higher’ than its already improved forecast of £ 14.8million. pounds sterling for the year up to the end of February.
“The popularity of reading during the lockdown is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark year,” said Nigel Newton, managing director of Bloomsbury. “February, the last month of our fiscal year, saw an exceptional trading performance for Bloomsbury as the reading continued to rise.”
Bloomsbury said it was not yet clear whether the reading boom would continue. As a result, the publisher maintains the medium and long term sales forecasts unchanged.
“We don’t yet know how consumer behavior will change with the reopening of academic institutions, stores and leisure activities and whether this popularity will continue with the lifting of restrictions,” Newton said.
In October, the company announced its most profitable first half in more than a decade.
Bloomsbury said he had repaid the £ 63,000 he initially took from the government’s leave program, as well as temporary pay cuts taken by staff in the first three months of his fiscal year.