Bloomsbury Publishing has proposed a special dividend, as it showed how plenty of academic and leisure reading during lockdowns helped sales to reach record levels.
The Harry Potter publisher, which was founded by Nigel Newton in 1986, did see shops that sell its goods close at various points for lockdowns in the year to February. However, there was a online sales surge, including from websites run by individual book stores.
Popular titles during the period included the Dishoom cook book, and bestsellers included Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke and Humankind by Rutger Bregman.
Revenues increased 14% to £185.1 million, and pretax profit was 31% higher at £17.3 million. This was ahead of expectations.
Bloomsbury’s chief executive Newton said: “The popularity of reading has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark year.”
The firm proposed a special dividend of 9.78p per share, and the board is recommending a final dividend of 7.58p per share, totalling £6.2 million.
Bloomsbury added that for the current financial year, results are set to be ahead of the £177.5 million and £17.4 million of sales and profits the City is expecting.
Books currently in demand include Tom Kerridge’s Outdoor Cooking: The Ultimate Modern Barbeque Bible.