News Column

Pearson Books to Digital Future, Axes Jobs

Feb 26, 2013

Rupert Steiner


Media giant Pearson is axing a raft of jobs as part of a major new reorganisation at the Penguin books-to-Financial Times owner.

The firm, which makes the bulk of its earnings selling educational products such as manuals and tests, warned it would spend pounds sterling 200m refocusing the business for the digital age by 2015.

The shake-up comes just eight weeks after John Fallon took over as chief executive from long-serving Dame Majorie Scardino. He refused to disclose the scale of the impending job cuts.

Pearson said the restructuring programme is expected to generate pounds sterling 100m of annual cost savings from 2014 and it planned to reinvest that sum to grow its digital arm and business in the emerging markets.

Fallon said: "We are ... planning significantly to accelerate our push into digital learning, education services and emerging markets. For some time we have been focusing our acquisition and organic investment in these areas. We now intend a further significant reallocation of internal resources to these activities."

But the firm was the biggest faller of the Footise, down 3.7pc, following a gloomy outlook for 2013, and pre-tax profits falling 59pc.

Pearson had already issued a rare downgrade to forecasts in January due to sluggish advertising and weaker educational funding in developed markets.

Fallon said: "We expect the external environment to remain challenging for our developed world and publishing business in 2013 owing to a combination of cyclical and structural factors."

He listed several concerns including pressures on education budgets and college enrolments, retail consolidation, the shift in the business model from print sales to digital subscriptions and changing consumer behaviour. Digital sales of the Financial Times exceeded the print edition for the first time.

Pearson (down 45p to 1171p) said pre-tax profit had fallen to pounds sterling 434m from pounds sterling 1,047 largely due to an exceptional gain the previous year from the sale of a business and a pounds sterling 113m cost in 2012 due to the closure of another division.

However, it said a more meaningful measure is adjusted operating profit, which fell to just pounds sterling 936m from pounds sterling 942m on sales of pounds sterling 6.1bn.

In the UK Pearson said Penguin had its best year ever in terms of bestsellers. It is merging the business with Random House, owned by Bertelsmann.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 Daily Mail (London)

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