The Bonnier Group is a family-owned international media group based in Sweden. It comprises approximately 175 companies and operates in more than 20 countries. The Group´s structure is decentralized, with leadership responsibilities delegated as much as possible. Operations cover most media formats in five divisions: Books, Magazine Group, Business Press, Newspapers and Broadcasting & Entertainment.
By swapping its educational publishing business against Finnish Sonoma/WSOY’s trade division, Bonnier is now the leading publisher of fiction in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Bonnier Books is comprised of book publishers and book clubs throughout Scandinavia. Bonnierförlagen, based in Sweden along with Semic International, includes Albert Bonniers Förlag and Wahlström & Widstrand. Tammi and WSOY are based in Finland, and Cappelen Damm, of which Bonnier holds 50%, is based in Norway.
Bonnier is the leading publisher of children’s books in Germany, where it also has an extensive fiction list.
The British book publisher Bonnier Publishing has subsidiaries in France, Australia, the U.S., and other countries.
Bonnier also owns Adlibris, the largest online book retailer in the Nordic region.
Key Company Developments in 2012 & 2013
It has been a challenging year for the Bonnier Group. Bonnier’s Nordic book operations had a tough year, with a 13% drop in book sales in Sweden. A number of publishers have announced they will publish fewer books in the coming year, while Norstedt discontinued three of its book clubs and online book retailer giant Amazon contacted Bokrondellen for the Swedish book market.
Thus, turnover amounted to 29.17 billion SEK in 2012, a decrease of 2% compared with the previous year. “Earnings before goodwill and amortization amounted to 555 million SEK (950 million SEK), and earnings before tax to -217 million SEK (664 million SEK),” according to CEO Jonas Bonnier.
The Scandinavian operations, Book Nordic, reported an increase for 2012, while EBITA shrunk significantly to 147 million SEK (against 379 million SEK). The decrease can partly be attributed to divestments and acquisitions from 2011, when Bonnier Utbildning was sold and WSOY was bought. During 2012, Bonnier acquired Pocket Shop, the leading paperback bookseller in Sweden, with stores in Sweden as well as in Finland and Germany.
Cappelen Damm, the largest publisher in Norway, continued to post strong earnings with robust growth in academic literature publications.
With book markets decreasing around the world, e-books and online sales are ever more in focus. Net sales from international businesses went down a fourth successive year to 2.2 billion SEK against 2.3 billion SEK and EBITA was 214 million SEK (277 million SEK in 2011), due to a general downturn in the German book market and the absence of big bestsellers.
Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization:
In 2012, Bonnier’s Nordic book and e-commerce operations were merged to form a single group, Bonnier Books. The acquisition of the Pocket Shop bookstore chain was one of the most significant events for Bonnier Books Nordic and was approved by the Swedish Competition Authority in October 2012. Pocket Shop has 16 stores in Sweden, three in Germany and one in Finland. Pocket Shop generates highly favorable earnings and has well-functioning operations.
Jonas Bonnier announced to leave his post as CEO at the end of 2013. The process of finding a successor has already started.
Despite difficult market conditions for Bonnier’s operations in Germany, trade imprints Ullstein, Piper, and Carlsen each had titles on the country’s top ten list of bestsellers. Two new units joined the group. Berlin Verlag was acquired in spring 2012 from British Bloomsbury for 2.6 million EUR plus 800 thousand EUR for international rights and the start-up Aladin Verlag.
In France, Piccolia had a much better year due to a big improvement in returns. Templar and Autumn Publishing, both UK-based, appointed new managing directors in the summer following poor starts to the year. The Five Mile Press, an Australian company specializing in children's books, adult non-fiction, and Australiana, was the best performing company and one of only three publishers to show any growth in the country between 2011 and 2012.
Bonnier Publishing is launching a new non-fiction UK trade list, Red Lemon Press, publishing books for adults and children. Hot Key Books and Red Lemon Press will share sales and marketing teams and Weldon Owen and Red Lemon Press will share foreign rights and co-edition teams.
German Piper publishing house made all new releases (approximately 450 titles) available in digital format. Even though e-book sales increased 4000 - 5000%, they cover only 1% of overall sales in 2011. In 2012, this share is expected to increase to 4-5% according to Piper editor Marcel Hartges.
Bestselling Authors & Titles:
Norwegian author Lars Mytting’s Hel Ved (Solid Wood) was an unexpected bestseller, with roughly 150,000 copies.
In late 2009, Bonnier acquired Weldon Owen, the Florida-based publisher specializing in illustrated non-fiction books.
In 2008, Jonas Bonnier was appointed as the new CEO of Bonnier AB. Before his appointment, he ran the Bonnier magazine division.
In 2008, Bonnier books acquired the UK children’s book publisher Templar with yearly revenues of 17 m GBP.
In Germany, with imprints including Piper, Ullstein, Ars Editzion, Carlsen which published Harry Potter in Germany, Bonnier’s sales in 2008 excluding Harry Potter were 174.2 million EUR (against 2007, when Harry Potter 7 was released, of 214.5 million EUR).