All three divisions of the Pearson education and media empire have focused on technology developments and the interim results released today demonstrate the strategy is working. Pearson, which owns the Financial Times newspaper group, Penguin publishing and Pearson Education reported a growth in sales by 14 per cent and operating profits of £124 million.
Sales of education products were up by 17 per cent. Pearson accredited its digital learning services for the healthy figures. The FT Group sales profits were up by 21 per cent and Penguin sales increased by nine per cent.
“Our momentum is strong,” said Majorie Scardino, Pearson chief executive. “We have leadership position in good markets and an effective growth strategy based on quality content, digital innovation and international expansion.”
The Pearson Education business is undergoing a reorganisation into three divisions: North America, International and Professional. The division achieves most of its sales and profits in the second half of the year due to the seasonal nature of the education book market, where it is strongest. Pearson Education has traditionally been strong in the US, where the Association of American Publishers has reported that educational publishers are benefiting from high demand for instructional works that have enhanced technology features and the ability to personalize. MyLab, an online product that is directly associated to Pearson text books as well as a set of course management tools, reported a 48 per cent increase in students registrations. Pearson is also developing online learning in partnership with academic institutes.
The Financial Times Group, which publishes the newspaper and FT.com has recorded sustained growth in its advertising, circulation and subscriptions. Pearson said, “In recent years, the FT Group has significantly shifted its business towards digital and subscriptions revenues”. Last year, digital services, which includes information services Mergermarket, ExecAppointments.com and Money-Media, produced 63 per cent of the FT Group revenues. Pearson believes the shift of the FT into digital services will weatherproof it from the failing economy. Last year the FT.com moved its online access model to limited free access in response to rumours that Rupert Murdoch was going to make the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), free online. The WSJ is the main rival to the FT. In the end Murdoch, once he had completed the acquisition of Dow Jones and the WSJ, did not pull the subscription model down.
Penguin, like its sister companies, is developing technological ways of reaching its customers and has been involved in extensive eBook development plan. By early 2009 Penguin will have 6,500 titles in eBook format available in the US and a strategy of publishing in both print and digital formats on release of a new title in the UK. But it was the traditional hard back release of the latest James Bond book Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks that was a highlight, becoming the fastest selling Penguin hardback in the UK.