Courier’s Sales Off Overall, but Digital Business Up Sharply
"This was a quarter of tremendous accomplishments in our book manufacturing segment," said Mr. Conway. "We worked closely with two of our largest customers to lay the foundations for long-term growth in religious and educational sales, and we added capacity that will help customers make the most of their opportunities across the entire book publishing life cycle. The smooth startups of both of our new presses illustrate our ability to move quickly to take leading positions in high-growth markets. And with each new press we have also raised the bar in terms of operating efficiency and responsiveness to customers’ evolving needs."
Publishing: sales off, but Creative Homeowner improves
Courier’s specialty publishing segment includes three businesses: Dover Publications, a niche publisher with thousands of titles in dozens of specialty trade markets; Creative Homeowner, which publishes books on home design, decorating, landscaping and gardening; and Research & Education Association (REA), a publisher of test preparation books and study guides.
First-quarter revenues for the segment were $10.8 million, down 7 percent from $11.6 million in last year’s first quarter. Sales were down 3 percent at Dover and down 31 percent at REA, with the decline at REA reflecting an exceptionally strong first quarter in fiscal 2010 due to the simultaneous effects of a major product launch and a chain-wide merchandising order at a large nationwide bookseller. Creative Homeowner sales were up 7 percent, reflecting improving sales of home plans as well as home-center book sales. Overall, the segment lost $809,000 in the quarter, versus a loss of $514,000 in fiscal 2010, reflecting the impact of slower sales at Dover and REA.
“As in book manufacturing, there were positive currents at work in our publishing segment,” said Conway. “Dover’s consumer marketing expertise helped drive an increase in online sales for the quarter, while the sales decline at REA was largely a function of how well last year’s first quarter set the stage for its double-digit sales growth throughout the year. Equally important, retail sell-through for REA products was up in the quarter, signaling the likely advent of a new wave of ordering for the coming spring testing season.