Czech Republic’s Children’s Publisher Albatros Media Buys Vyšehrad

In News by Jaroslaw Adamowski

Already estimated to hold some 17 percent of the Czech wholesale book market, Albatros Media this spring continues broadening its acquisitions portfolio by buying the country’s oldest publisher.

On Prague’s Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). Image – iStockphoto: Roma

By Jaroslaw Adamowksi | @JaroslawAdamows

Goal: Boosting Nonfiction Offer for Adults
In the past month, the Czech Republic’s leading children’s books publisher Albatros Media a.s. has acquired the country’s oldest existing publishing company Vyšehrad.

Albatros Media specializes in children’s books, and with the latest takeover, the company plans to expand its footprint with nonfiction for adults, according to senior company representatives.

Josef Žák, sales and marketing director at Albatros, tells Publishing Perspectives that the publisher is making efforts to strengthen its offer “mainly in the nonfiction part of the segment,” and that by taking over Vyšehrad’s portfolio, it will be able to add “history, science, philosophy and religion, and biographies” to its list.

Albatros bought the entire company from Vyšehrad’s three shareholders: Adam Rakovský, who held a stake of 40 percent, Vladimír Verner, who sold his 30-percent stake, and Pravomil Novák, who had held 30 percent. The Prague-based publishing house was established in 1934, and since then has released more than 3,000 titles.

With about 80 titles annually, Vyšehrad says it ranks among the Top 20 Czech publishers. The company has published Czech translations of familiar international stalwarts including Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Paul Sartre, Joseph Roth, Mark Twain, Max Weber, and Oscar Wilde.

In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, Vyšehrad reported sales of about 18 million koruna (US$900,000) and a loss of some 500,000 koruna (US$24,000), as reported by Marek Miler for Hospodářské noviny.

Albatros Media, which operates predominantly in the Czech market, but also maintains a presence in neighboring Slovakia, reported revenues of about 856 million koruna (US$41.6 million), and a net profit of some 76.9 million koruna (US$3.7 million) for 2016.

As reported by Chris Johnstone at Radio Praha, the group is estimated to have about 17 percent in the Czech wholesale book market. The amount of the Vyšehrad transaction wasn’t disclosed by Albatros Media.

Asked about the potential gains that the acquisition is expected to generate for Albatros Media, Žák says that synergies between the two houses’ output are among “the expected benefits of each of our acquisitions. It concerns not only administrative or marketing costs. We can also [use these acquisitions to improve] our own wholesale and logistics infrastructure,” he says.

Outlooks and Acquisitions

The latest figures from the Czech Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association (SČKN) suggest a positive forecast for the country’s publishers.

In 2016, the country’s publishing industry posted improved results with sales of some 7.8 billion koruna (US$379.2 million), a 4-percent increase compared with a year earlier, according to a market report released by the association. The increase was credited to a number of factors, and the SČKN’s representatives said its main drivers were “growth of the economy and purchasing power” of Czech consumers, as reported by Publishing Perspectives.

The latest takeover is part of a series of such moves by Albatros in recent years.

In an effort to reinforce its position as a key publishing group in the Czech Republic, the Czech publishing group bought the Danish consortium Egmont’s Czech operation in 2016, another move reported by Publishing Perspectives. A year later, Albatros Media took over Zlín Kniha, a specialist in crime novels and thrillers, and the Czech publisher of Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbø’s popular crime novel series about Inspector Harry Hole.

Albatros Media comprises 14 imprints which publish books for children, youth and adults. These include Albatros, CooBoo, BizBooks, Edika, B4U Publishing, XYZ, Motto, Fragment, Kniha Zlín, Egmont, CPress, Computer Press, Management Press, and Plus. The company’s portfolio includes JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, The Little Prince, and beloved children’s book character Little Mole.

Set up in 1949 as National Children’s Publishing by the country’s postwar authorities, the company operated under that brand until 1969. Since its establishment, Albatros says it has released more than 25,000 titles published in 450 million copies.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Czech book market and industry is here. And more on mergers and acquisitions is here.

About the Author

Jaroslaw Adamowski

Jaroslaw Adamowski is a freelance writer based in Warsaw, Poland. He has written for the Guardian, the Independent, the Jerusalem Post, and the Prague Post.