Results at Publicly Traded Scholium (Shapero Rare Books) "Stabilised" and "Improving"
- by Michael Stillman
After a rough first half of their fiscal year (year ending March 31, 2017), Scholium Group, parent of English bookseller Shapero Rare Books, reported conditions have stabilized and are now looking up. The second half was much better than the first. Scholium issued an interim report on their past year, which will be followed up later with complete annual results. Scholium operates Shapero and Scholium Trading, a division that joins with other dealers to trade jointly in very expensive books and art.
In the first half of their fiscal year, Scholium reported a loss of £239,000 (US $300,000). The primary culprit was Brexit. Sales tumbled as British buyers withdrew as a result of the uncertainty caused by Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. At the midpoint of their fiscal year, Scholium said sales were starting to rebound after a very poor start to the year. They noted that renewed interest was particularly notable from overseas buyers, after the British pound dropped precipitously following the vote to leave the European Union. It made their prices in U.S. dollars and other currencies substantially lower.
At that midpoint, Scholium announced two steps they were taking to improve results. Some items were placed with U.S. auctions to take advantage of the exchange rate based favorable pricing in America. Secondly, they identified £320,000 ($400,000) in annual savings available by reducing operating expenses and the size of their inventory.
While not saying in what manner new sales were made in the second half of the year, Scholium stated that sales had increased by 80%, "albeit at a lower margin." They said that this can in part be attributed to the performance of Scholium Trading, "where we have seen success in the sale of some major items." They continued, "Sales of antiquarian books and works on paper stabilised in the second half and are currently on an improving trend." As a result, they believe the company will achieve roughly a break-even for the second half of the year.
Scholium did not project results for the coming year, but noted that the steps needed to realize the £320,000 in annual savings have now been implemented. Since those savings would have only been partially implemented in the last half of their fiscal 2016, and none in the first half, those savings should improve their bottom line in 2017.
In other news, Scholium announced that Shapero Rare Books has joined the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association. They pointed out this will allow them to exhibit at several new international book fairs. Additionally, they reported that Roddy Newlands, formerly Managing Director of Bloomsbury Auctions, has joined Shapero as Head of English Literature, where he will assist the firm in the growth of new sales.