Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury boosted as retailers get Christmas book orders in early

·2 min read
Publisher Bloomsbury said Piranesi by Susanna Clarke has been a popular book during the pandemic (Bloomsbury)
Publisher Bloomsbury said Piranesi by Susanna Clarke has been a popular book during the pandemic (Bloomsbury)

Retailers getting in Christmas book orders earlier than normal, to ensure shelves are full while the supply chain crisis continues, has helped Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury to achieve record first half revenues.

The company said it sought to mitigate logistics headaches, such as potential short supply of paper, by printing well in advance of normal.

Chief executive Nigel Newton added that booksellers, both online and physical retailers, “significantly increased” stock levels in the six months to August 31. Firms are typically ordering up to two months earlier than usual.

Sales rose 29% to £100.7 million, and pre-tax profits more than trebled to £11.1 million.

Bestsellers in the consumer arm during the period included Tom Kerridge's Outdoor Cooking, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

The Song of Achilles, which retells Homer’s The Iliad, was originally published in 2011, but had a resurgence in popularity this year. That came after it featured on TikTok where people post videos with the hashtag BookTok, recommending their favourite books. Some posts gets millions of views.

Newton told the Evening Standard: “The surge in reading we saw in lockdowns has continued. We are continuing to see really robust sales via online retailers, and in store sales have been fantastic.”

Revenues also got a lift from two acquisitions made during the half year.

Bloomsbury, which Newton founded in London in 1986, pointed to potential challenges ahead, including supply chain headaches and the possibility of higher returns of the increased stock ordered early.

But it still expects to achieve City expectations of revenues hitting £193.4 million and profits of £19.3 million in the year to February 2022.

The firm announced a 5% increase in its interim dividend to 1.34p per share.

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