Potter to push Bloomsbury profits to top end

By Rachel Stevenson
Friday 10 January 2003 01:00

Bloomsbury Publishing, the company that brought Harry Potter to the world, is continuing its successful run. Yesterday the group said good Christmas sales would push 2002 profits above market expectations.

Shares in Bloomsbury rose by more than 9 per cent on the news that the publishing group would beat the £11m profits forecast for 2002 before closing 2.3 per cent up at 672.5p.

Bestsellers for Bloomsbury over Christmas included Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, and Schott's Original Miscellany. This collection of unusual facts was a surprise publishing success over Christmas and the book is now in its 10th print run.

Harry Potter has continued to be a runaway success for Bloomsbury, with the release of the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in November. Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury's chief executive, yesterday said sales of the books in the series increased in line with expectations, both in the UK and abroad.

But there is still no date for publication of the fifth Harry Potter novel. JK Rowling, author of the stories, has promised to hand over the manuscript to Bloomsbury early this year, meaning it should hit the shelves by July. The last Harry Potter novel was published more than two years ago, and sold 370,000 copies on its first day.

A&C Black, Bloomsbury's reference subsidiary that publishes Who's Who, also helped boost sales for the group. It has a store of regular yearbooks that are published in time for sale over the Christmas period. The group said the business reference tome, BUSINESS: The Ultimate Resource, which it launched in September, has exceeded expectations in both sales and licensing revenues.

"With the strength of our publishing list we will continue to build a valuable library of content that will generate cash for the business for many years to come," Mr Newton said.

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