Bloomsbury buys rival

The publisher Bloomsbury said the UK consumer economy was the "toughest it has been for decades", as it unveiled a £20.1m cash acquisition of Continuum, the academic books specialist.

Bloomsbury, which publishes the Harry Potter series, said that trade revenues remained "soft" for the period from 1 March to yesterday. It also blamed Waterstone's "strict rationing" of orders before HMV Group sold the bookseller to Alexander Mamut last month.

It said the purchase of Continuum from Nova/ Paul Investments Capital was a "transformational step" in its strategy to grow its academic and professional division.