Lagardère First Half 2023 results

Paris-July 25, 2023

At Hachette Book Group:


Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said, “It’s been a full and exciting first half at Hachette. We launched a new ecommerce-enabled website, moved our NYC Workman colleagues into our midtown headquarters, Moon Travel celebrated their 50th anniversary with a festive gathering in Berkeley, and Orbit launched its new digital publishing imprint, Orbit Works. Our authors enjoyed major honors including James Patterson becoming the first author to tally 100 million books sold on Bookscan, Walter Mosley receiving the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger, Michael Connelly being named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, Ira Wallace winning the James Beard Leadership Award, and Jefferson Cowie winning the Pulitzer for History for Freedom’s Dominion.


The ebbing of the pandemic lift that began in the second half of 2022 continued for HBG into 2023’s first half.  We were happy to see sales growth from bookstore chains and independent bookstores, our downloadable audio program continued its strong positive trajectory, and travel book sales grew significantly. But sales of backlist titles, children’s and Christian books, and general and prescriptive nonfiction faced particular challenges in a down market. Cost-reduction measures we began in 2022 mitigated the profit impact of our revenue decline versus 2022’s dynamic first half.


Backlist sales began to grow toward the end of the first half and we anticipate a considerably stronger second half, with continued strength from our adult fiction programs, our market-leading travel books from Rick Steves and Moon Travel, and TikTok-promoted nonfiction and fiction. Our third quarter brings exciting nonfiction including Thomas Sowell’s Social Justice Fallacies, Gary Kasparov’s The World After Ukraine, Bernie Taupin’s Scattershot, Kerry Washington’s Thicker Than Water, Joyce Meyer’s Blessed in the Mess, Leslie Jones’ Leslie F*cking Jones, and Ross Gay’s The Book of (More) Delights. Fiction highlights include Ntozake Shange’s Sing a Black Girl’s Song, Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot Protects, Grace Lin’s Chinese Menu, Thrity Umrigar’s The Museum of Failures, James Patterson and Mike Lupica’s 12 Months to Live, and Robert Galbraith’s The Running Grave. And for the youngest readers, we have Indestructibles: Elmo Says Surprise, the first in our new Sesame Street partnership, and My First Brainquest: Feelings and Opposites coming in September.


At Hachette Livre:


Lagardère Publishing delivered revenue of €1.247 billion, up 2.5% as reported and up 1.6% like for like. “In a less dynamic market, Lagardère Publishing maintained strong trading momentum. The difference between reported and like-for-like revenue is mainly attributable to a €21 million positive scope effect and a €9 million negative currency effect,” according to Lagardère’s press release.


Commentary on Lagardère Publishing divisions


The changes below for the first half are shown on a like for like basis:


In France: revenue for Hachette Livre “increased by a strong 7.0% despite a more lackluster market, and was supported by a denser publication schedule. Illustrated Books was lifted by Sarah Rivens’ successful Captive series and by the release of the graphic novel film tie-in with Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom. Business was also boosted by a recovery in Tourist Guides and growth in the Practical Guides segment. General Literature also performed well, propelled by bestsellers such as Prince Harry’s Spare, Pierre Lemaitre’s Le Silence et la Colère, and Florent Pagny’s Pagny par Florent as well as benefiting from continued momentum at Le Livre de Poche.”


In the US: Hachette Book Group revenue “was down by 8.6% due to a lighter publication schedule and a lack of bestsellers compared to 2022, which had enjoyed hits including Colleen Hoover’s Verity and Run, Rose, Run, the novel co-written by Dolly Parton and James Patterson, amid a general downturn in the US publishing market.”


In the UK: revenue for Hachette UK “advanced by 7.3% in a slightly growing market. The performance was propelled chiefly by the Adult Trade segment, with success in both the backlist and frontlist. International activity also advanced, particularly in Australia. The Young Adult segment was down, however, following the success of the Heartstopper titles in the first half of 2022.”


In Spain/Latin America: revenue in Spain/Latin America “grew sharply by 26.1%. In Spain, activity was lifted by strong growth in the Education segment, due to the early start of the school campaign in June under the national curriculum reform. Mexico posted solid growth, boosted by a dictionary sales campaign and an upbeat market in General Literature.”


Partworks: Revenue from Partworks was down by 8.0%, “owing to a less dynamic launch campaign in the first half of 2023, especially in Japan and France.”


Ebooks: in the first half of 2023, digital audiobooks represented 4.7% of revenue (versus 4.5% in first-half 2022). Ebooks accounted for 7.8% of total Lagardère Publishing revenue in the first half of 2023 (compared to 7.6% in first-half 2022).


Recurring EBIT: Lagardère Publishing reported €65 million in recurring EBIT, down €16 million on its first-half 2022 performance. “The change was mainly attributable to inflationary pressures on labor and production costs, as well as to an increase in costs incurred on transformation projects in France. These effects were partly offset by higher selling prices and the impacts of operational efficiency plans, particularly in the United States.”


At Lagardère:
“Revenue for the Lagardère group climbed sharply over the first half of 2023 to €3,701 million, up 22.3% as reported and up 19.0% like for like. The difference between reported and like-for-like data is attributable to an €87 million positive scope effect, mainly due to the acquisitions of Marché International and Costa Coffee Polska by Lagardère Travel Retail, and of Welbeck Publishing Group by Lagardère Publishing, and to a €4 million negative currency effect attributable mainly to the depreciation of the pound sterling.”


Lagardère Group recurring EBIT in the first half of the year totalled €141 million, €34 million higher than in first-half 2022.  Lagardère Publishing recorded recurring EBIT of €65 million (versus €81 million in first-half 2022), and Lagardère Travel Retail reported recurring EBIT of €92 million (versus €26 million in first-half 2022).


“Our revenue at the start of the year confirms the Group’s robust trajectory, with growth of 19% in the first half. The Group thus recorded a ninth consecutive quarter of growth. Lagardère Travel Retail posted a very solid performance driven by the strong recovery in air traffic, while Lagardère Publishing maintained a high level of activity and thus confirmed its resilience in a less buoyant publishing market. This dynamic attests to the relevance and power of the Group’s strategic model.” – Arnaud Lagardère, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lagardère SA.


Read more in Lagardère’s press release. If you have questions about today’s announcement, please contact Sophie Cottrell.


Third-quarter 2023 revenue will be announced on Wednesday, October 18.