The Bonnier Group is a family-owned international media group based in Sweden with 160 companies in 16 countries. The Group´s structure is decentralized, with leadership responsibilities delegated as much as possible. Operations include TV, newspapers, business press, magazines, film production, books, commercial radio and digital media.
Since it acquired Finland’s largest general trade book publisher WSOY from Sonoma in 2011, Bonnier has been the leading publisher of fiction in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The Books Nordic department includes book publishers in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Bonnierförlagen, based in Sweden along with Semic International, includes Albert Bonniers Förlag and Wahlström & Widstrand. Tammi and WSOY are based in Finland, and Cappelen Damm, of which Bonnier holds 50%, is based in Norway.
The International department includes book publishers outside Scandinavia. Bonnier Media Deutschland publishes trade and children’s books in Germany. The English publisher Bonnier Publishing has subsidiaries in France and Australia. Recently, Bonnier Books New Market was formed to explore new markets.
Bonnier also owns the largest online book retailer in the Nordic region, Adlibris.
Analysis & Key Developments
Bonnier’s net sales for 2013 were 26.69 billion SEK, down from 29.18 billion SEK in 2012. The decline was caused mainly by divestments and structural changes.
Books Nordic saw a sales increase in 2013 with 4.13 billion SEK, up from 4.01 billion SEK in 2012. EBITA rose to 217 million SEK after a sharp decline in 2012 (149 million SEK). The previous drop was due to a decline in the Swedish book market. Earnings improved slightly in Finland, despite difficulties in the market.
Bonnier cited a general decline in the German book market to explain a drop in sales and EBITA for the International division, while Bonnier Publishing increased profits in England.
All in all, profits from publishing grew 41 million SEK, from 361 million SEK in 2012 to 402 million SEK in 2013, while revenues were down 45 million SEK from 6.3 billion SEK in 2012 to 6.26 billion SEK in 2013.
Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization
Jonas Bonnier retired as CEO on February 1, 2014. Bonnier’s successor, Tomas Franzén was the CEO of Com Hem, Sweden’s leading cable and broadband provider. CFO Göran Öhrn served as CEO in the interim.
Bonnier Books New Market, a subdivision of International, acquired a stake in the Polish publishing company Marginesy, which has several bestselling biography titles.
Sweden contributed the greatest revenue percentage, with 14.92 billion SEK. Finland contributed 3.26 billion SEK, Norway 2.44 billion SEK, Denmark 1.80 billion SEK, United States 1.56 billion SEK, Germany 1.56 billion SEK, and 1.15 billion SEK from other markets.
Bonnier Publishing is focused on growing sales in Asia, and created a new position for an Asia sales director.
Bonnier Media Deutschland expanded in trade publishing by acquiring Berlin Verlag and Klett’s children’s book imprint Esslinger. Sales amounted to 200 million EUR.
Bonnier’s Nordic book operations had a challenging year in 2012, with a 13% drop in book sales in Sweden. A number of publishers have announced they will publish fewer books in the coming year, while Norstedt discontinued three of its book clubs and online book retailer giant Amazon contacted Bokrondellen for the Swedish book market.
Thus, turnover amounted to 29.17 billion SEK in 2012, a decrease of 2% compared with the previous year. “Earnings before goodwill and amortization amounted to 555 million SEK (950 million SEK), and earnings before tax to -217 million SEK (664 million SEK),” according to CEO Jonas Bonnier.
The Scandinavian operations, Book Nordic, reported an increase for 2012, while EBITA shrunk sig-nificantly to 147 million SEK (against 379 million SEK). The decrease can partly be attributed to divestments and acquisitions from 2011, when Bonnier Utbildning was sold and WSOY was bought. During 2012, Bonnier acquired Pocket Shop, the leading paperback bookseller in Sweden, with stores in Sweden as well as in Finland and Germany.
Cappelen Damm, the largest publisher in Norway, continued to post strong earnings with robust growth in academic literature publications.
With book markets decreasing around the world, e-books and online sales are ever more in focus. Net sales from international businesses went down a fourth successive year to 2.2 billion SEK against 2.3 billion SEK and EBITA was 214 million SEK (277 million SEK in 2011), due to a general downturn in the German book market and the absence of big bestsellers.
Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization
In 2012, Bonnier’s Nordic book and e-commerce operations were merged to form a single group, Bonnier Books. The acquisition of the Pocket Shop bookstore chain was one of the most significant events for Bonnier Books Nordic and was approved by the Swedish Competition Authority in October 2012. Pocket Shop has 16 stores in Sweden, three in Germany and one in Finland. Pocket Shop generates highly favorable earnings and has well-functioning operations.
Jonas Bonnier announced to leave his post as CEO at the end of 2013.
Despite difficult market conditions for Bonnier’s operations in Germany, trade imprints Ullstein, Piper, and Carlsen each had titles on the country’s top ten list of bestsellers. Two new units joined the group. Berlin Verlag was acquired in spring 2012 from British Bloomsbury for 2.6 million EUR plus 800 thousand EUR for international rights and the start-up Aladin Verlag.
In France, Piccolia had a much better year due to a big improvement in returns. Templar and Autumn Publishing, both UK-based, appointed new managing directors in the summer following poor starts to the year. The Five Mile Press, an Australian company specializing in children's books, adult non-fiction, and Australiana, was the best performing company and one of only three publishers to show any growth in the country between 2011 and 2012.
Bonnier Publishing is launching a new non-fiction UK trade list, Red Lemon Press, publishing books for adults and children. Hot Key Books and Red Lemon Press will share sales and marketing teams and Weldon Owen and Red Lemon Press will share foreign rights and co-edition teams.
German Piper publishing house made all new releases (approximately 450 titles) available in digital format. Even though e-book sales increased 4000 - 5000%, they cover only 1% of overall sales in 2011. In 2012, this share is expected to increase to 4-5% according to Piper editor Marcel Hartges.