It Was a Profitable Year for Shapero Rare Books, But...

- by Michael Stillman

Scholium Group, parent of London bookseller Shapero Rare Books, recently released their earnings report for their past fiscal year, ending on March 31, 2020. It was a good year. The firm, of which Shapero Rare Books is the largest of three divisions, saw sales climb by 2.3%, from £7.1 million the previous year to £7.3 million (approximately $9.4 million in U.S. dollars). More significantly, the company swung from a loss the prior year to a profit in the last one. Its profit and loss statement moved from a loss of £13,000 to a profit of £25,000 (US $32,000).


Scholium was able to achieve the profit despite a very challenging final month to the fiscal year. The firm announced they had a small loss in the second half of the year, the result of the coronavirus pandemic which hit hard during March. Shapero was forced to close the doors of its retail location while book fairs that provide an important part of their business were cancelled.


Of course, the world has changed drastically since last March. Unless you are manufacturing face masks or searching for a vaccine, the chances are your business has suffered a severe economic downturn. The rare book trade has not been immune. The progress made last year, upon which Scholium hoped to build, has instead faded away. According to a company statement published by Alliance News, Scholium said, “Trading conditions have inevitably been difficult since 31 March 2020, and the group's retail premises remained closed until mid-June. Since re-opening, footfall has been significantly lower than in the previous year. It is the board's present expectation that the group will incur a loss in the first half of the year to 30 September 2020 as a result of the disruption from Covid-19.” Earlier, the company had said it did not expect even an improved second half of the year would be sufficient to balance the loss expected in the first half.