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29 July 2016 /

Cambridge University Press announces underlying growth against a backdrop of volatile market conditions

Cambridge University Press, the world’s oldest media organisation, has published its 2015/16 annual report. The report shows that sales have grown at constant currency by 1.5 per cent. 

Despite volatile conditions for the publishing industry as a whole, the results are in line with competitors and show underlying growth and opportunity for the year ahead. Sales of £269m led to an operating profit from trading before exceptional items of £6.5m.

Education, which provides teaching materials for schools in the UK and around the world, has been the Press’s fastest growing segment in recent years, and repeated this achievement in 2015–16 with 28 per cent growth. One particular success was in the highly competitive Australian market, based around new secondary school mathematics products. In India, the Press also enjoyed a year of exceptional growth and products for international schools also performed strongly.

Further highlights were the continued growth of publishing for international schools, and expanded programmes with governments in the developing world to help them make teaching and learning more effective. Across the Press, developing markets now account for 36 per cent of sales – a figure that has doubled in five years. 

Cambridge English Language Teaching (ELT) also grew thanks to significant investment in products for both primary and secondary students. Increased resources for publishing and sales in Latin America, Iberia, the Gulf and China produced strong results.

Academic books, in common with the industry, faced strong headwinds, particularly in the United States, where a weak market and mergers between major distributors affected sales. Universities in North America and Europe have also been moving to payment models based on usage, involving buying books digitally and paying the publisher when the volume is used, deferring revenue compared to up-front purchase. An increased proportion of library spending is being directed towards journals, and journals within our Academic publishing group continue to do well.

Overall, the Press has reported that digital sales continue to grow at around 20 per cent per annum.

Chief Executive Peter Phillips said: ‘While the difficult conditions in global markets may persist for some time, our growth comes from the way we adapt to change. The role of the publisher is evolving: our growing digital products and services now account for a third of our revenues. It is important that we continue to innovate based on what our customers now need, experimenting with new business models and seeking out creative partnerships. 

‘All our initiatives during the year had in mind how we can serve better the changing needs of researchers, teachers and students, and fulfil our core purpose and that of our University: advancing learning, knowledge and research worldwide.

The breadth, quality and global reach of our products, our position at the heart of educational and research communities, and our deepening partnerships across the University of Cambridge, are the means which will allow us to continue to deliver that purpose into the future.’ 


Notes to editors:

For further information please contact the Press Office at or 01223 325166 

About Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Dedicated to excellence, its purpose is to further the University’s objective of advancing knowledge, education, learning and research. Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, more than 350 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing. Playing a leading role in today’s international market place, Cambridge University Press has more than 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world. 

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