First quarter sales at Harlequin rose 2.3%, to C$115.4 million, and operating profit declined from C$23 million in last year’s first period to C$22 million in the most recent quarter. Sales and earnings were both negatively impacted by the strong Canadian dollar and parent company Torstar noted that excluding the impact of foreign exchange Harlequin’s sales increased by C$8 million and operating profit by C$1.9 million. Torstar said Harlequin had a solid start.
Similar to Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster, e-books led the gains at Harlequin in the quarter. E-book sales in North America rose C$7.1 million offsetting a C$1.7 million decline in print retail sales and a C$800,000 decline in print sales through its direct-to-consumer business due mainly to a drop in sales via online retailers. Digital sales accounted for 13.6% of total revenue in the quarter, or about C$15.6 million.
In its overseas markets, revenue was up C$2.9 million and operating profit down C$400,000, excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Print retail sales were down in the quarter but digital business in the U.K. and Japan improved.
Torstar said it expects Harlequin’s business to be stable for the remainder of the year, excluding the impact of foreign exchange, given the uncertainty of the print book business and the rapid growth of e-books.