Oxford University Press, a department of the University of Oxford, has a remarkably diverse publishing program that reaches far beyond traditional university presses. OUP publishes in more than 40 languages under a variety of print and digital formats that cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum. OUP's list is aimed at all audiences, from pre-school to secondary level schoolchildren; students to academics; general readers to researchers; and individuals to institutions. OUP is driven by the University of Oxford's objectives for excellence in scholarship, research, and education.
OUP published 185 titles by Oxford-based authors in 2013, a 15% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 100 OUP series with Oxford-based editors.
Analysis & Key Developments
Oxford University Press closed fiscal year 2014 (ending March 31st) with 759 million GBP. The publisher produced a surplus of 114 million GBP and noted profit before tax of 107 million GBP against 116 million GBP in 2013. Strong contributions came from emerging markets.
The main task of 2014 was the completion of the acquisition of educational publisher Nelson Thornes, the largest in OUP’s history.
OUP generated 41% or 307 million GBP of its turnover in emerging markets, 10.9% more than the previous year. The Asia Education division recorded double digit growth “driven by the schools and higher education market in India and a growing private school market in Pakistan.” Strong contributions were delivered by ELT operations, which underwent a major reorganization.
“OUP has had an international presence for a couple of hundred years and we've always approached our international business by making it local, rather than Oxford exporting to the world. The new markets are spending more money on academic research and education, and now countries tend to look across at each other and copy what works – which enables us to publish for the world," as Nigel Portwood, Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive, told The Bookseller
OUP is focused on Kenya and Tanzania-based operations in East Africa in order to further the digital revolution that is improving education opportunities in both countries. OUP South Africa benefited from education reform and growth was strong in Turkey.
OUP España suffered from continued weakness in the Spanish economy and delays in curriculum renewal.
OUP decided to wind down its school textbook program in Canada. This does not affect OUP’s Higher Education and ELT programs. In Australia, OUP generated double-digit growth within a mature marketplace.
As Portwood reported, “print sales are declining less rapidly than anticipated in some of our international markets, and print remains at the heart of our organization even within an increasingly digital world.”
Digital sales grew 7.5% to 144 million GBP and now account for 20% of OUP's total turnover.
E-book growth was flat for OUP’s Academic unit, especially in the US, and print sales declined more than expected. The maturing UK e-book market and the inclusion of OUP titles in Apple’s iBookstore offer promise for a turnaround. The publisher also succeeded in digitizing backlist content with 2,700 previously published scholarly and professional works now available in digital format.
“This year was one of significant change in the Press, implemented against a backdrop of continuing economic uncertainty and market transformation”, according to CEO Nigel Portwood. Despite difficulties in Europe (Spain in particular), and some African markets, overall sales grew by 4.4% to 760 million GBP and sales in emerging markets increased by 12%. Digital now represents 19% of its overall sales, up from 17% in 2012, and 56% of scholarly and professional sales. The publisher reported a surplus of 121 million GBP and during the course of the year it transferred 50 million GBP to the university.
OUP was charged to pay almost 2 million GBP after the Serious Fraud Office discovered OUP subsidiaries in Tanzania and Kenya. As a consequence, OUP executed some structural adjustment to better oversee activities. The International Division was dismantled in October 2012, and its former branches were consolidated. Operations in Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, and Malaysia were united into a new division, Asia Education.
The Australian and African business joined UK schools and children’s publishing units to form Oxford Education. Additionally, a senior management team was introduced at OUP’s African operations “to ensure the highest ethical standards,” according to Portwood.
OUP Canada joined the Global Academic division, and OUP Mexico became part of the English Language Teaching division, which underwent the same restructuring process as OUP España.
In 2013, OUP acquired Nelson Thornes, a leading educational publisher with a range of primary, secondary, and vocational resources, from parent company Infinitas Learning for an undisclosed sum.
OUP launched a range of digital innovation, including new and updated online products in the international schools market, with Oxford Educate in India and the updated e-book platform in Australia.