Having grown revenue to just under £20 million since its launch in 2003 to the year ended March 31, 2012, largely on the strength of inexpensive children’s and adult print books, Igloo Books, based in Northamptonshire, England, is looking to digital and international markets to drive its next round of growth. Although the U.S. accounted for about 20% of its total sales in fiscal 2012, the company just added Doug Pocock, most recently with Egmont USA, to help expand sales in America. Pocock joins Jonny Illingworth and Jennifer Harrison to spend about half of their time in the States talking to accounts, said John Styring, Igloo CEO. His goal for the current year is to hit £8 million in sales in the U.S., something Styring believes can be achieved by expanding into more mass merchants. Igloo has a good presence in Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, but is not as strong among the mass merchandisers in the U.S. as in the U.K. “We have a strong relationship with Wal-Mart in the U.K.,” Styring noted.
On the digital side, Igloo’s e-book program took a giant step forward earlier this month when it offered 32 e-books on iTunes and 40 other e-books on Amazon. Styring said he was encouraged to enter the e-book market in a more aggressive way given the success of Igloo’s first two e-books, I Love My Daddy and I Love My Mommy, both of which have hit bestseller charts in the children and teen categories. Igloo has also recently entered the app market, creating four apps around Nick Jr.’s Humf character. Humf is one of two major licenses (Humphrey’s Corner is the other), and Igloo used Humf’s top print titles, such as Humf and the Balloon, to use as its first apps; Igloo will add more apps based on their reception in the marketplace, Styring said.
To date Styring’s mix has been roughly 70/30 in favor of children’s titles, including lots of activity and board books as well as novelty titles. Styring hopes to bring the ratio down to about 60/40 as the company adds more cookbooks, nonfiction, and novelty titles that appeal to adults. And he remains committed to publishing a large number of titles annually, with about 192 titles set for release this fall, a number that will bring Igloo’s backlist to more than 800. To handle the higher volume, Igloo now has 82 employees and beginning October 1 will start an employee bonus plan that lets nonmanagement and management staff earn bonuses from a £250,000 fund. Given Styring’s expectations for another strong year—Igloo’s new cookbooks have gotten off to a strong start—those bonuses shouldn’t be too hard to earn.