Led by a strong performance in its trade division, revenue at Scholastic rose 7% in the first quarter ended August 31, 2019, over the comparable period in fiscal 2019. Sales were $232.6 million, up from $218.4 million in the quarter ended August 31, 2018. The net loss was cut to $58.5 million, from $61.3 million in last year’s first quarter.
Overall sales in the company’s children’s book publishing and distribution category rose 15%, to $109.6 million. The increase was driven by a 21% jump in sales in the trade unit, which had revenue of $74.1 million, up from $61.4 million a year ago. Trade sales benefited from the inclusion of revenue from Make Believe Ideas, Ltd, the U.K. publisher, which Scholastic acquired a majority stake in this March. The trade unit also had strong sales from a number of titles including Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls and The Poison Jungle. Book fair sales rose 9%, to $27.5 million, helped by higher net redemptions of Scholastic Dollars, the company reported. Book club sales fell 12%, to $8 million, in what is a slight period for the clubs.
In Scholastic’s education group, revenue rose 1% over the first quarter of fiscal 2019, to $48.4 million. Scholastic attributed the small increase to initial sales of Scholastic Literacy, higher professional learning sales, and higher teaching resources sales, adding that the increase was partially offset by a year-over-year decline in summer reading programs.
In the publisher’s international group, first quarter revenue was $74.6 million, which is even with last year. Excluding the $2.6 million impact of foreign exchange in the current fiscal quarter, segment revenue rose 3%. Scholastic said trade sales in its major markets, as well as higher education sales in Asia, were partially offset by lower direct-to-home sales in Asia and the company's export business.