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Lagardère Full-Year 2020 Results

Paris-February 25, 2021

Lagardère announced their 2020 full-year revenue and profits today, including 3.9% revenue growth at HBG. Highlights are as follows:

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said, “We were incredibly fortunate that readers sought out our books despite the disruptions of the year and that retailers found creative ways to sell them. And we are especially grateful to our warehouse colleagues who kept our books shipping all year in the face of the pandemic.

HBG’s strong performance was enhanced by Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun, the #1 bestselling novel of 2020; Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series; and many books that were part of the national Black Lives Matter conversation, including Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race, and Beverly Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?  Like many publishers in 2020, we had the benefit of increased sales of ebooks and downloadable audiobooks and higher backlist sales.

James Patterson reached two milestones in 2020, publishing his 100th #1 New York Times bestseller, The Family Lawyer, and being honored by Nielsen BookScan as the #1 bestselling author of the decade 2010-2019.  Other major fiction bestsellers for the year were Nicholas Sparks’s novel The Return, David Baldacci’s Walk the Wire, Elin Hilderbrand’s 28 Summers, and Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence.  Leading nonfiction titles for the year include Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, Admiral William McRaven’s Make Your Bed, and Dan Crenshaw’s Fortitude. Running Press’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Guy was our #1 mini-kit of the year and a ubiquitous stocking stuffer during the holiday season.

We maintained our growth trajectory in 2020, with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers’ acquisition of more than 1,000 titles from the Disney Book Group catalog, announcing the launch of three imprints, Legacy Lit, GCP Balance, and Christy Ottaviano Books, and taking on distribution clients Lonely Planet and National Geographic.  And we worked intensively on a broad range of initiatives to make HBG a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable company, with increased representation of people of color in HBG’s leadership, workplaces, and publishing programs.

2021 is off to a superb start with three #1 bestsellers (James Patterson’s Walk in My Combat Boots and The Russian, and Meena Harris’s Ambitious Girl), and newsmaking acquisitions from Billie Eilish, Ben Mezrich and Malcolm Gladwell. And we have exciting new books coming soon from David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Senator Tammy Duckworth, T.D. Jakes, Christopher Kimball, Admiral William McRaven, Joyce Meyer, James Patterson, Dana Perino, and many more.”

At Hachette Livre:

Hachette Livre delivered revenue of €2.375 billion in 2020, down 0.8% like-for-like (excluding consolidation and exchange rate impacts) over 2019 and down 0.4% on a consolidated basis. “Sales at Lagardère Publishing remained stable during the crisis,” according to Lagardère’s press release, “testifying to the strong resilience of the business, supported mainly by a solid performance from General Literature in its different regions.”

In fourth quarter 2020, the publishing division delivered revenue of €700 million, up 4.0% (like for like) and 3.2% (consolidated).

France: 2020 revenue declined 4.3% in France, “hit by the marked decrease in sales during the first-half lockdown. Business was also affected by a smaller impact from curriculum reform versus 2019. However, despite several weeks when bookshops were closed, General Literature reported growth,” thanks to Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and two novels by Guillaume Musso, among other titles.

United States: revenue increased 3.9% in the US, “powered by the success of several novels in the second half, including Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun and Nicholas Sparks’s The Return, along with various titles from well-known authors,” according to the release. “The success of titles from The Witcher series and publications linked to the Black Lives Matter movement also contributed to the year’s good performance. Sales of digital formats enjoyed fast-paced growth.”

United Kingdom: revenue was up 9.9% in the UK, despite the lockdown. “Revenue growth can be explained by the large number of best-selling titles including J.K. Rowling’s The Ickabog, Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun, the backlist title from Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series. There was vigorous growth in digital formats (e-books and audiobooks) during the year, partly attributable to the repeated closures of brick-and-mortar points of sale.”

Spain/Latin America: revenue declined 16.4% in Spain/Latin America, resulting in part from impacts to the education business in Spain (due to less extensive curriculum reform) and Mexico (due to the pandemic).

Partworks: revenue from sales of Partworks fell 9.5%, attributed to a reduction to the number of launches due to the health crisis and a difficult comparison with a successful 2019.

Ebooks accounted for 9.5% of total Lagardère Publishing revenue in 2020 versus 7.7% in 2019, while digital audiobooks represented 4.3% of revenue versus 3.4% in 2019.

The Publishing division’s recurring EBIT of €246 million is an increase of €26 million year on year. “The year-on-year increase was driven by a more favorable format mix (strong growth in e-books and audiobook sales) in the context of the health crisis, and by a stellar rise in backlist sales due to the success of The Witcher series, among others,” according to the release.

At Lagardère:

Lagardère reported revenue of €4.324 billion in 2020, down 38.3% like for like. The company delivered profit of negative €155 million, down €533 million compared to 2019.

First quarter 2021 results will be announced on April 27.

For more details, read Lagardère’s press release.