Bloomsbury, the publisher of Harry Potter, has unveiled record sales and profits thanks to the popularity of titles including Tom Kerridge’s latest cookbook during the coronavirus pandemic despite supply chain issues.
The company said the increase in reading continued as people “rediscovered the joy of reading,” fantasy, escape, social inclusion and cuisine selling well.
He said his income for the six months to the end of August was also boosted by customer orders earlier than in previous years. Sales of books, along with many other consumer products, typically peak in the three months leading up to Christmas. Stores and online retailers have increased their stock levels to ensure they have enough stock for Christmas.
Last month, publishers and retailers warned of potential delays on Christmas books as the nation’s shortage of truck drivers had affected deliveries. Waterstones, the UK’s largest bookseller, said it had increased its book stocks by a quarter.
Bloomsbury also raised stock levels, to £ 37million from £ 26million a year earlier. He resorted to printing earlier, long before his usual peaks as Christmas approached and the start of the academic year in the fall, and was flexible about where he prints.
Its consumer division recorded 29% revenue growth, according to unaudited first half results. The bestsellers included books by American fantasy author Sarah J Maas on women warriors, such as A Court of Silver Flames, as well as the fantasy novels Piranesi by Susanna Clarke and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, all two British writers, and Outdoor. Cuisine by Michelin-starred chef Kerridge.
Maas’ book sales jumped 130%. The company said Harry Potter sales were also good and the books remained among its top sellers, while other children’s titles rose 10%. He launched Our Biggest Experiment: A History of the Climate Crisis by Alice Bell in July, months before the Cop26 summit which begins in Glasgow on Saturday.
Two Bloomsbury authors have won prestigious prizes since late August: the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Abdulrazak Gurnah, while the Women’s Prize went to Clarke.
Overall the company achieved first half revenue of £ 100.7million, up 29%, and underlying profit before tax of £ 12.9million, up £ 220 %, thanks to two acquisitions. It expects to achieve revenue of £ 193million and underlying profit before tax of £ 19.3million in the year through February 28.