Total revenue at Penguin Random House rose 25.2% in 2014 to 3.32 billion euros, while EBITDA increased 24.5% to 452 million euros, parent company Bertelsmann reported Tuesday morning. The increase, Bertelsmann said, was due primarily to the Penguin merger (completed July 1, 2013) and the purchase of Santillana Ediciones Generales (completed July 1, 2014). (2013 results do not include sales and earnings for Penguin for the first six months of that year).
The results, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said in his letter to employees, “made a powerful statement” --Penguin and Random House “are strong together.” The company published 15,000 new titles in 2014 and now has over 100,000 e-books in its catalogue, a number which helped PRH sell more than 100 million digital titles in the year. The publisher, both Dohle and Bertelsmann noted, published hundreds of bestsellers in 2014 and had numerous critical successes including the Man Booker Prize winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Toms River which won the Pulitzer Prize. The company’s U.S. division had an “outstanding performance” in 2014, Bertelsmann said. Other growth drivers were a strong performance by the children’s group and increased sales of media tie-in titles. The biggest single-seller in the year was The Fault in Our Stars which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide in print and e-book formats. PRH also sold more than 17 million copies of titles “inspired” by Frozen.
The integration of Penguin and Random House is moving “faster than planned,” Bertelsmann said. Dohle noted that the financial and creative results in 2014 were achieved “while making major achievements in our integration in every territory. The seamless systems cutovers and distribution-center transfers in the United States this past winter will be a blueprint for our successful integration around the world.”
Integration, Dohle wrote, is one of three priorities for 2015 with the other two innovation and international presence. Bertelsmann pointed to the international scope of its publishing operations, explaining that the U.K. division had a “solid” year in a difficult market, while PRH Grupo Editorial offset weakness in Spain with strong gains in Latin America (helped by acquisitions). Bertelsmann’s German publishing unit had a “stable year.”
With the progress already achieved in creating PRH, Dohle wrote that “This is our moment. Now, with the depth and reach of our combined company, a fantastic line-up of books for 2015 and beyond, and the best publishing talent in the world, this is our time to take the fullest advantage of the opportunities we have created for our authors, for our books, and for us.”
To thank PRH employees in the U.S. for their efforts in 2014, Dohle said that every employee not on a commission or bonus plan will receive a special payment of $750.