2020 overview

2020 was a good year shaped by the resilience of our businesses in the face of the Covid-19 health crisis, especially in English-speaking markets, which amply vindicated our unique, international and diversified business model.

In a global publishing market characterised by growth in the United States (up 8.2%)1 and the United Kingdom (up 5.5%)2 , and in spite of the slight decline in France (down 1.8%)3, Lagardère Publishing delivered revenue of €2,375 million (including acquisitions), a slight 0.8% decrease on a like-for-like basis compared with 2019, and recurring EBIT up 12% to €246 million.

The improved results were driven by a very good performance on English-speaking markets, growth in digital formats in all regions and the cost-saving measures put in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

In France, General Literature had a very good year, particularly Fayard with Barack Obama's A Promised Land, and Calmann-Lévy with the publication of Guillaume Musso's La vie est un roman and the reissue of his novel Skidamarink. In addition, Stock won the Grand Prix du Roman, the Académie française's literary prize, for Étienne de Montety's La grande épreuve. Grasset published Vanessa Springora's sensation Le consentement and JC Lattès notched up a hit with Olivia Ruiz's first novel La commode aux tiroirs de couleurs. Hatier and Hachette Éducation suffered from the fact that high school curricula were less extensively reformed than in 2019, while Illustrated Books performed well despite a sharp contraction in the tourism guide market and the lack of a new Asterix album.

In the United States, three new imprints emerged during the year: GCP Balance, Christy Ottaviano Books and Legacy Lit. In addition, with the acquisition of more than 1,000 titles from the Disney Book Group catalogue, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (LBYR) strengthened its positions on the youth market. Although digital formats continued to grow in 2020, Hachette Book Group also enjoyed best sellers such as Stephenie Meyer's Midnight Sun and Nicholas Sparks' The Return, as well as Andrzej Sapkowski's successful The Witcher series at Orbit. Several titles linked to the Black Lives Matter movement also contributed to the year's good performance.

In the United Kingdom, Hachette UK had a very good year thanks to the spectacular growth of digital formats and a particularly rich rollcall of best sellers such as The Witcher at Orion and Midnight Sun at Little, Brown Book Group, as well as the release of the new J.K. Rowling novel, The Ickabog, at LBYR. Hachette UK also acquired publishing house Laurence King Publishing, a specialist in illustrated books and the creative arts.

Business was down in Education and General Literature in Spain, however, while Latin America was hit hard by the health crisis. This was also the case for Partworks, where performance varied from country to country, with Japan and Germany showing greater resistance than France and Latin America.

In 2020, the contribution of e-books to Lagardère Publishing's overall revenue was 13.8%, versus 11.1% in 2019.


(1) Source: NPD BookScan (by volume).
(2) Source: Nielsen BookScan (by value).
(3) Source: GfK (by value).


  Hachette Livre makes its move into board games

With its talent and huge deal of passion, authors, editors, etc., the world of board games has a lot in common with the world of books. In 2019, Hachette Livre took its first step by acquiring Gigamic and then Blackrock Games, while also setting up two board game design studios, Studio H and Funnyfox, joined by a third studio acquired in early 2021, Sorry We Are French. Less than two years after it was created, the division has already achieved tangible results: Oriflamme, the first game from Studio H, won the "Game of the Year" prize at the 2020 As d'Or awards, the ultimate accolade for any game developer.

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