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Lockdown fantasy getaways propel Bloomsbury to new heights

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Sales of children’s fantasy books surged during the coronavirus pandemic, helping to push publisher Bloomsbury to an all-time record.

The business said that it had seen a 7% jump in demand for Harry Potter books, while author Sarah J Maas, who wrote the Throne Of Glass series, saw her book sales soar 129%.

It meant that Bloomsbury can now say that it expects revenue and profit to be “comfortably ahead” of market expectations in the current financial year.

Analysts had previously expected that revenue would reach £177.5 million in the 12 months to February 2022, and pre-tax profit before highlighted items would be £17.4 million.

Bloomsbury did not reveal its own projections, merely saying the results will beat what analysts thought.

It did however tell investors that in the year to February 2021 pre-tax profit rose 31% to £17.3 million on revenue of £185.1 million, up 14%.

“The popularity of reading has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark year,” said chief executive Nigel Newton.

“In an outstanding year for Bloomsbury, we delivered record results with sales up 14% to £185.1 million compared to the industry which was up 2%.”

The business said that much of its portfolio had clearly resonated with customers during the pandemic.

They turned to books on many different themes including humanity, social inclusion, escapism, fantasy, cookery and baking.

AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said: “Bloomsbury faced a painful transition following its mid-noughties peak at the height of Pottermania but it is no longer a one-hit wonder with a diverse list of bestsellers in its portfolio.

“While bookshops have been closed for long spells during lockdown, consumers have been used to buying online or purchasing titles for e-readers.

“Releasing content in a digital format allows Bloomsbury to generate revenue from a ‘backlist’ of previously published books at very limited additional cost, benefiting margin performance.”