Citing continuing strong demand for books and educational materials in February, Bloomsbury Publishing said it expects sales for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2021, to be above current market expectations, and for profits to be "significantly" ahead of previous forecasts. Bloomsbury puts market expectations at £171.0 million and earnings at £14.8 million.
"The popularity of reading during lockdown is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very dark last year," chairman Nigel Newton said in a statement. "February, the final month of our financial year, saw an exceptional sales performance for Bloomsbury as the surge in reading continued."
In its consumer group, Bloomsbury pointed to "exceptional" February sales led by good results in both its adult and children’s publishing divisions, as well as its strong backlist sales. Sarah J. Maas's new novel, A Court of Silver Flames, which was published on February 16, has been a global bestseller, Bloomsbury said, including in the U.S. Piranesi, released last fall, has also sold well in the U.S., and Monday evening, it took home the Audiobook of the Year for 2021 at the Audie Awards.
In the non-consumer group, the company said its Bloomsbury Digital Resources has benefitted from the increased demand for remote access to learning materials by academic institutions.
Newton said Bloomsbury’s medium and long-term expectations are unchanged, and while he expressed confidence in the publisher’s titles and strategy, he was cautious about prospects for fiscal 2022. “We do not yet know how consumer behavior will change as academic institutions, shops and leisure activities reopen and whether [reading's] popularity will continue as restrictions are lifted,” he said.