The U.K.-based Quarto Group reported a small decline in sales for the six month period ended June 30, with revenue falling to $72.2 million from $73.2 million in the comparable period last year, while operating profit inched ahead to $4.0 million from $3.9 million. CEO Marcus Leaver said he was satisfied with results given that 2013 was always seen as a transition year. Leaver has been CEO since taking over from Laurence Orbach last December and has instituted a number of changes that have reduced debt by $4.5 million, cut costs by $1 million and started a number of initiatives that Leaver hopes will result in sales growth in 2014.
In the last six months, the U.S. Quayside Publishing Group had a solid performance with sales up 7%, to $29.1 million and operating profit up to $3.6 million from $2.9 million. Both frontlist and backlist sales were up at Quayside and the company had a couple a solid gardening book hits from the merged Cool Springs and Creative Publishing International operations. An important contributor to sales was the decision to move the sales of Quarto’s U.K. arm Aurum Publishing Group from PGW to Quayside and sales were up 20% in the four months that Quayside has been distributing the titles. Sales of digital books rose 5%, to $1.4 million. Leaver noted that most of Quayside (as well as for the rest of Quarto) books work best in print since they are heavily illustrated. “We’ve built the [digital] platforms, now we are waiting for the customers to come,” Leaver said. Even with higher sales of color tablets consumers have been slow to buy illustrated books on digital devices, Leaver said. “We have tried different things. We would love a new marketing channel.” While Quarto waits for a digital market to develop the company is devoting more time to opening accounts in nontraditional markets.
Other initiatives that have been launched or are in the planning stages including expanding Quarto’s presence in different parts of the children’s market and developing an extensive gift and stationery line. And beginning January 1, warehousing for its U.S. and U.K. operations will be consolidated at Hachette.
In its other groups, sales at Quarto International Editions fell to $10.7 million from $11.2 million, revenue at Aurum Group rose to $8.3 million from $8.2 million and sales in its Lifetime/Premier Display marketing group fell to $12.3 million from $14.7 million.