The Bonnier Group is a family-owned international media group active in TV, daily newspapers, business and trade publishing, magazines, film, books, radio and digital media. Bonnier is based in Scandinavia and is present in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Eastern Europe and elsewhere, with operations in 16 countries and more than 8,000 employees around the world.
The company’s publishing business began in 1804. The group is wholly owned by the Bonnier family, which has been running it for seven generations.
Bonnier combined its Nordic and International publishing divisions into Bonnier Books in 2014, Bonnier’s Nordic imprints are under Bonnierförlagen, and include Albert Bonniers Förlag, Wahlström & Wistrand, Bonnier Carlsen, CappelenDamm (shared with Egmont), and Bonnier Books Finland (with publishers Tammi, WSOY and readme).
Bonnier Media Deutschland comprises the group’s German publishing houses, including Ullstein Buchverlag, Piper verlag, Carlsen verlag, Thienemann-Esslinger, and others.
Bonnier Publishing represents the English-speaking business with Hot Key Books, Zaffre, IglooBooks, Templar Publishing, Blink Publishing, Autumn Publishing, Weldon Owen Publishing, and others in the UK; Five Mile Press and Echo Publishing in Australia; Paris-based publishers Piccolia abd Elcy; and little bee books in New York.
Bonnier Books is also present in Poland through Marginesy.
Bonnier is active in retail, and operates the largest online retailer in the Nordic region, Adlibris. Brick-and-mortar bookstores under Bonnier include the softcover chain Pocket Shop in Finland, Sweden, Germany and UK, and the Finnish book chain Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (an academic bookstore). Bonnier Books also offers self-publishing services through Type&Tell and the digital subscription service BookBeat in Sweden and Finland.
Analysis & Key Developments
CEO Tomas Franzén reported in 2014 that Bonnier AB was set to become a leading digital company. In 2015 the media group continued to invest in the future without losing profits. Bonnier AB posted overall group net sales for 2015 of 25.9 million SEK against 23.7 million SEK in 2014.
Bonnier Books sustained profitability and an impressive growth rate during 2015. Net sales at Bonnier Books grew from 6.47 million SEK in 2014 to 6.97 million SEK in 2015, an 8% growth. The division is the company’s second largest in terms of revenue.
Bonnier Books recorded an EBITA of 422 million SEK in 2015 against 437 million SEK in 2014, despite investments in new digital services and other growth initiatives.
There have been no major changes in the management since Jacob Dalborg became head of Bonnier Books and CEO in 2014. Niclas Sandén was appointed CEO of Bonnier Books’ newly launched digital subscription service BookBeat in 2015, and Venla Silanterä was recruited as CEO of the acquired Academic Bookstore in Finland.
Sweden’s Bonnierförlagen had a very strong year with increased profitability. Its authors won a majority of the country’s literature awards, including all three categories of the August Prize. Sales of digital audiobooks increased significantly, and it was the first year that more digital than physical titles were sold.
Norway’s Cappelen Damm had a stable year. The publisher held the majority of titles on the country’s bestseller lists, and one of its titles won the prestigious Brage Prize. Bookstore chain Tanum secured a contract for five new bookstores at Oslo’s Gardemoen airport, with sales of 200 million NOK a year.
Bonnier Books Finland faced a challenging year due to a tough Finnish economy. Despite this, Adlibris capitalized on growth in the e-commerce market and was able to strengthen its position.
Bonnier Media Deutschland had another strong year, with three books at the top of the bestseller lists. The publisher began and developed a number of digital initiatives and acquired the small publisher Lappan, which improved the market position for Carlsen Verlag.
Bonnier Publishing in the U.K. had its best year ever, and became the U.K.’s fourth-largest book publisher. Igloo Books, acquired in late 2014, had its all-time most profitable year. Bonnier's adult fiction division had a successful start, and acquired small genre publisher Totally Entwined. The group had its first number one book on the bestseller lists, and repeated the achievement later in the year. Sales increased by 42%, and profits nearly doubled.
Acquisitions and Growth Initiatives in Publishing
In 2015, Bonnier entered the American children’s book market with its newly founded children’s book publisher little bee books in New York City. Until then, the Swedish media group was only present in the US through Weldon Owen, a publisher of illustrated reference, lifestyle and cookbooks.
Bonnier Publishing launched an imprint for adult literature, Bonnier Books launched the self-publishing service Type&Tell in Sweden, Carlsen Verlag (part of Bonnier Media Deutschland) acquired Lappan in March 2015, and Bonnier Publishing acquired Entwined in July 2015.
Bonnier Books increased its retail position in Scandinavia with strong growth from online retailer Adlibris and the acquisition of Helsinki-based Akateeminen Kirjakauppa. Sales for Pocket Shops increased in Sweden and Finland, and the chain is looking to expand with several new locations. BookBeat, a digital book service with a mobile focus, was developed and launched in beta in 2015; it will be fully launched on the market in 2016.
Acquisitions and Growth Initiatives in Retail
In June 2015, Adlibris expanded its product range, adding crafts and DIY, stationary and office supplies, and toys.
In July 2015, Adlibris acquired Odla.nu, Sweden’s largest online retailer for gardening.
In October 2015, Bonnier Books acquired the Helsinki-based Akateeminen Kirjakauppa.
In October 2015, Adlibris launched a sister site, the Kitchen Favorites/Kökets Favoriter, with Bonnier’s TV4.
In November 2015, Bonnier Books launched its digital subscription service with mobile focus, BookBeat, in Sweden.
In November 2015, Adlibris opened a brick and mortar bookstore in Stockholm.
Pocket Shop announced that they are opening their first store in UK in the coming year.