Profits at publisher HarperCollins hit by change

PROFITS at HarperCollins, the Glasgow-based book publisher owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, have taken a tumble following changes at its distribution centre and write-offs relating to its plant costs.

Hilary Mantel, one of HarperCollins' most prominent authors. Picture: Contributed
Hilary Mantel, one of HarperCollins' most prominent authors. Picture: Contributed

Pre-tax profits for the year to 30 June dropped to £2.8 million from £8.3m in the previous 12 months, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Yet turnover at the firm – which traces its roots back to 1819 when William Collins opened his atlas, Bible and dictionary printing business in Glasgow – jumped to £190.6m from £182.6m after the company’s share of the UK books market increased by 0.1 percentage points to 7.9 per cent.

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HarperCollins hailed the success of a string of books including Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which became the first novel to win both the Costa and Man Booker prizes.

The publisher noted that comedian David Walliams enjoyed a “staggering” 29 weeks at the top of the sales charts with two children’s books, Ratburger and Gangsta Granny, which was turned into a TV programme by the BBC for Christmas. Sales of children’s books were also boosted by the release of the first instalment in The Hobbit film trilogy, said the firm, which prints the works of Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien, plus Chronicles of Narnia writer CS Lewis and Poirot creator Agatha Christie.

HarperCollins – which also publishes Games of Thrones writer George RR Martin and television chef Lorraine Pascale – expects profit margins to return to “normal levels” during its current financial year.

News of the results came a day after Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson revealed losses at its Parragon books division ate into profits at the group