In what the company characterized as another transitional quarter, sales at Millbrook Press fell 24.4% in the period ended April 30, to $3.4 million, and the net loss increased to $238,000 from $172,000 in the comparable quarter in fiscal 2002. Sales were down in both the company's trade, and schools and library markets. Trade sales were hurt by Millbrook's decision to stop distributing the Snappy product line last May, while a decline in state funding drove down sales to schools and libraries, the company said.
Company president Dave Allen told PW that during the quarter Millbrook continued to build its strength in the trade market, while exiting its least profitable areas. The reorganization, which began earlier this year (News, Mar. 31), will see Millbrook close its Copper Beech and Magic Attic imprints when the publisher's fiscal year ends July 31. Allen said he hopes to have all "P&L" issues connected to the reorganization resolved before the start of fiscal 2004. "We're trying to flush everything out by the end of the fiscal year," he said.
Sales comparisons in the trade segment should be more favorable in the current quarter since Millbrook stopped selling the Snappy line at the end of last year's third quarter. In addition, sales of Roaring Brook are expected to grow as the imprint's backlist increases and sales per unit rise. But Allen does not see the school and library market improving in the current quarter or in time for the new fall semester.
Despite the difficult market conditions, Allen said he expects the chronically money-losing company to become profitable in fiscal 2004, possibly as early as the first quarter.