Belfast Telegraph

Heston tipped as a stocking filling hit

By Philip Whiterow

Publisher Bloomsbury is pinning its hopes on cookery books to be a winner this Christmas with new titles from top chefs seen as potential best-sellers.

Bloomsbury has tipped River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston at Home by Heston Blumenthal as the best of its stocking fillers.

A sizeable chunk of any sales, though, are likely to be through eBooks after sales of electronic versions soared by 564% to £2.5m in the six months to August 31.

The eBook performance helped overall sales rise by 16% to £44.9m.

Bloomsbury said underlying profits rose by 52% to £2.2m from £1.4m, though the bottom line was held back by £1.84m of one-off charges.

The publisher said the UK and US both performed better than expected with a robust second quarter making up for a slow first three months.

Chief executive Nigel Newton said much of the growth in the first half had come from people switching from print products to eBooks.

All four divisions increased turnover year-on-year, though there was an increased loss in Germany of £1.1m as its eBook market has been slower to take off compared to other markets.

Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at broker Numis, said the statement was robust and she expects to maintain her forecast for profits of £9.1m in the year to February and £10.4m the year after.