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Covid-19 hits first quarter sales at Bertelsmann, Lagardère

The parent companies of Hachette and Penguin Random House (PRH) have both reported first-quarter revenue declines due to the challenges of Covid-19.

According to Publishers Weekly, Lagardère—the parent company of Hachette Book Group—reported that year-on-year sales dipped 0.8% in the first quarter of 2020. While its publishing operation was up 5.3% for January and February, sales fell 19% in March, as stay-at-home orders went into effect across its markets. The company expects its global publishing sales to be down 45% year-on-year in April.

In particular, Lagardère’s travel division has been hit hard by the pandemic, with revenue falling 13.5% in the first quarter, and an expected 90% drop in April.

Locally, Hachette Australia CEO Louise Sherwin-Stark has reported the publisher has ‘enjoyed one of our best ever first quarters this year’, due to strong ongoing sales post Christmas 2019 and bestselling fiction titles such as Where The Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens), American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins), The Paris Secret (Natasha Lester) and The Loudness of Unsaid Things (Hilde Hinton).

Lagardère said it ‘cannot assess the impacts of the crisis accurately and reliably in terms of the decrease in revenue and operating profit’, due to uncertainty over the duration and scale of the epidemic and governments’ lockdown measures.

Penguin Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann has seen a 2.7% decline in first quarter revenue, with revenue of €4.1 billion (A$6.91b)—down from €4.2 billion (A$7.08b) in the same period last year, the Bookseller reports.

Bertelsmann reports that PRH saw a rise in demand for children’s and YA books, and an increase in physical online sales during March.

The company also warned that due to Covid-19, it could not make an accurate economic forecast for the remainder of the year. ‘Against the backdrop of the fast developing coronavirus crisis, the forecast for the 2020 financial year published in the annual report 2019 cannot be maintained,’ said Bertelsmann CFO Bernd Hirsch. ‘Nor is a reliable assessment of the further business development for 2020 possible at this time. We have taken numerous countermeasures in the area of costs and investments, but expect to see negative effects on our earnings situation in the months ahead.’


Category: International news