Engagement with Stakeholders

We believe that effective engagement with our key stakeholders, and consideration of their interests, is a vital aspect of our ability to achieve our mission and purpose, drive long-term value creation and ensure Bloomsbury's continued success.

Bloomsbury’s key stakeholder groups can be grouped into seven key categories. We provide an overview of their interests and concerns, the ways in which the Company and the Board (directly and through the senior management team) engage with them, and how the interests of these key stakeholder groups are taken into account in our decision-making and the formulation of our strategy.

  • Shareholders
  • Authors and illustrators
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Customers – wholesale and retail
  • Customers – academic and educational institutions, corporate customers
  • Society (including community and the environment) 

The Board is responsible for oversight of stakeholder engagement, ensuring that we balance the needs and expectations of our different stakeholder groups. The Board maintains its oversight through a variety of direct and indirect mechanisms.

The insights which the Board gains through Bloomsbury’s engagement mechanisms provide essential context for the Board’s discussions and decision-making process. Board materials and discussions seek to appropriately consider the interests of key stakeholder groups while ensuring the need to promote the success of the Company for the benefit of its members as a whole. In addition, at each Board meeting, the Directors are presented with a report on a particular stakeholder group, the key issues affecting that group and the engagement that has taken place to ensure a strong and continued understanding of stakeholder interests and concerns and the potential impact of the Board’s decisions across our various stakeholder groups.

This section of the Annual Report, in conjunction with our Section 172(1) Statement on page 38 of the 2024 Annual Report, sets out how the Directors have taken into account the interests of material stakeholders in their decision-making during the year.

Shareholders

Why they matter

Our Shareholders are the ultimate owners of Bloomsbury. They provide capital, including for growth, while providing challenge and feedback on our business model and strategic plans. We rely on their confidence, support and investment to deliver our strategy and Bloomsbury’s long-term sustainable success.

What matters to them

Long-term value creation through a mix of capital appreciation and dividends.

  • Timely and relevant information on performance against expectations.
  • Dividend Policy.
  • Remuneration Policy.
  • Clear strategy to deliver long-term growth.
  • Opportunities for engagement with management.
  • A supportive Company culture and the wellbeing of employees.
  • ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance.

Ways we engage

2023/2024 we appointed our first Head of Investor Relations to enhance our engagement with Shareholders with our annual plan, which includes:

  • Presentations given to Shareholders upon the release of annual or interim results;
  • Meetings with current and prospective Shareholders following annual and interim results;
  • Feedback from current and prospective Shareholders following investor engagement; and
  • Reporting to the Board on investor matters and investor feedback.

The Chairman offers meetings with our top ten Shareholders twice a year.

The Company’s Annual Report and Accounts provide information about the Company’s performance and governance.

Key information and investor presentations are published on the Company’s investor relations website (www.bloomsbury-ir.com)

The Company’s Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) provides a forum for all Shareholders to address questions to the Board and vote on key resolutions.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

The Board is kept informed of all feedback received as part of Shareholder meetings and consultations.

Shareholder feedback on Bloomsbury’s strategy and performance has been positive; this has affirmed Bloomsbury’s commitment to its current strategy and areas of focus. See the Strategic Report on pages 9 to 37, which explains the Company’s performance and investment decisions during 2023/2024.

The Board recognises that Bloomsbury has a broad range of investors and aims to deliver long-term sustainable value while recognising their diverse interests (e.g. capital appreciation vs. dividend earnings). The Board considers these diverse interests in approving annual budgets and longer-term strategic planning.

Feedback received from Shareholders in response to the Annual Report and Accounts, and at the Company’s AGM in respect of matters relating to governance, are taken into consideration by the Board in deciding whether any revisions to its corporate framework are required.

Bloomsbury holds Capital Markets Events which provide analysts and Shareholders with further information about the business, such as that held about Bloomsbury Digital Resources in 2023.

Authors and Illustrators

Why they matter

Authors are the lifeblood of our Company.

What matters to them

  • Publication of the author’s works to a high and consistent standard, in line with the author’s vision for the work.
  • Their work is published in a format that has the furthest reach in the relevant markets.
  • Effective sales and marketing representation in relevant markets.
  • Appropriate compensation.
  • Timely and relevant information on the publication process and sales and marketing strategy for their works.

For academic authors, to maximise their impact on the scholarly community, secure tenure and promotion at academic institutions, secure research funding and enhance their professional reputation.

Ways we engage

Supporting authors in realising their best works and ensuring that their works are brought to market successfully requires close collaboration throughout the entire publishing process, from editorial and design, to sales and marketing, to production and distribution.

Frequent and ongoing engagement with authors and/or their literary agents enables us to help authors achieve their vision and to address any concerns they may have during the publishing process.

Building strong relationships with the markets we serve, for example libraries, faculties and the student community, enables us to help shape authors’ works for the relevant market segment.

In respect of academic publications, monthly production surveys and post-publication editorial surveys are conducted with authors in order to monitor author satisfaction and address any issues identified. Rigorous peer reviews are also conducted to ensure their work meets a specific standard in terms of quality.

Authors are also provided with a review and marketing update three months following publication of their works, so that they are kept informed of relevant marketing activities.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

Topics raised during the engagement process vary from author to author. A key topic of engagement in respect of new authors will be terms, including the scope of rights granted and royalties payable.

Other topics of engagement include the quality of editorial work, jacket design, marketing and publicity campaigns and sales activities. These are considered and responded to on a case-by-case basis.

Author surveys have yielded a consistently high level of scores. The Board is provided with survey results for consideration and to identify ways in which author satisfaction can be improved or enhanced.

Global supply chain challenges, which eased into 2023/2024, still had the potential to result in longer shipping times from printers’ locations. We have responded to this by being agile in where we print and in some cases printing in country of distribution to meet need efficiently.

Employees

Why they matter

Our employees are amongst Bloomsbury’s most important strengths. They are key to delivering Bloomsbury’s purpose and strategy, and are the driving force behind Bloomsbury’s success. Attracting and retaining talent is therefore integral to our performance and our business model.

What matters to them

  • Fulfilling work.
  • Recognition.
  • Fair and transparent remuneration.
  • Career development and progression.
  • To work in a stimulating, positive, ethical and supportive environment for a business with a strong social purpose.
  • A culture of inclusivity.
  • To understand business context and strategy.
  • To have a voice in Bloomsbury’s business.
  • Engagement with management.
  • The long-term health of the business.

Ways we engage

Information about the ways we engage with our employees is set out on pages 48 to 52 of the 2024 Annual Report.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

Information about how we consider the interests of our employees and the outcome of our engagement is set out on pages 48 to 52 of the 2024 Annual Report.

Suppliers

Why they matter

Building strong relationships with our suppliers enables us to obtain the very best value and quality of service. We rely on our suppliers to provide specialist services, which enable us to bring our publications and products to market. We wish to work with industry-leading suppliers who understand our priorities and will adhere to our way of working and our values. We want our suppliers to be our partners.

What matters to them

  • Our partnership.
  • Our medium and long-term commitment.
  • Shared success.
  • Appropriate compensation for services provided.
  • Prompt payment.
  • Predictable and sizeable volume.
  • Provision of timely information required to manage service provision.
  • Clear processes.
  • The kudos of working with Bloomsbury.

Ways we engage

Engagement with key suppliers is ongoing and frequent, and is managed by the Group Production Director and Director of Global Operations in tandem with heads of the relevant functional divisions. Regular formal meetings as well as day-to-day engagement with all production personnel ensures close collaboration and the effective flow of information required for the successful and timely provision of services.

In the case of printers, this includes the successful delivery of competitively priced and quality titles according to Bloomsbury’s publication schedules.

In the case of Bloomsbury’s distributors, this includes the ability to meet customer demand and expectations, exercise effective credit control, and appropriately manage stock levels.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

Significant issues arising out of engagement with key suppliers were reported to the Board for consideration, including engagement over commercial terms and our responses to global supply chain challenges.

Various supplier reporting processes are in place to manage credit risk, bad debt and retail customer charges and returns.

The Board is committed to high standards of ethical business conduct and sustainability. The relevant policies are available to all on our website.

Customers - wholesale and retail

Why they matter

Wholesalers and retailers are Bloomsbury’s primary route to market.

Collaboration with such parties is an important aspect of ensuring a work is published successfully.

Regular engagement with key customers builds trust and nurtures long-term relationships, which in turn encourages support for Bloomsbury titles.

Wholesale and retail customers provide valuable insight into consumer trends and advice on optimum release dates in order to maximise sales.

What matters to them

  • Maximising sales.
  • Maximising revenue and margins.
  • Ensuring a level playing field within sales channels.
  • Reliability of publishing schedules.
  • Inventory management, including timely delivery of fast-moving stock.
  • Promotional support.

Ways we engage

Senior management meets with key customers at relevant book fairs and other trade events.

Bloomsbury’s sales teams meet regularly with customers, to discuss forthcoming titles and publishing programmes. Sell-ins to customers occur on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis, depending on the customer.

Our sales and marketing teams liaise with key retailers on an ongoing basis on a range of matters with a view to maximising sales.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

Key topics of engagement included:

  • Commercial terms;
  • Sales activity and sales trends;
  • Matters relevant to maximising the success of particular titles, including cover designs, publication dates, marketing plans and retailer promotions;
  • Promotional support for individual titles; and
  • Supply chain and logistical issues.

Customers - academic and educational institutions, corporate customers

Why they matter

Academic and educational institutions and professional organisations are important customers in respect of Bloomsbury’s digital products, and, consequently, for the delivery of our long-term strategy of focusing on digital opportunities to grow our business.

What matters to them

  • Access to high-quality, relevant and comprehensive content to support academic courses and research, and in the case of professional organisations, the activities of their employees or members.
  • Applying funding to deliver the best value to their own stakeholders.
  • To ensure a swift, accurate and cost-effective way to purchase and access relevant products.
  • Publisher responses to policy developments in respect of Open Access publishing (see page 22 of the Strategic Report for further information).

Ways we engage

Bloomsbury has in place a range of engagement mechanisms to ensure we understand the priorities of these customers. These include:

  • Regular site visits by our sales team to academic libraries;
  • Direct meetings with a wide range of senior academics and university staff to understand their requirements;
  • Attendance of publishing directors and sales team at principal library conferences and professional organisation annual membership events;
  • Regular surveys of student, faculty and library users in respect of all aspects of Bloomsbury’s publishing and, in particular, in respect of new products; and
  • Supply of industry-standard library cataloguing records and usage statistics.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

Feedback from our customers and their stakeholders informs:

  • How Bloomsbury develops new and existing products, including Open Access publishing models;
  • The various sales models Bloomsbury offers (subscription vs perpetual access sales where access is granted on a perpetual basis, short-term loans, evidence or usage-based sales, title by title sales) to provide flexible buying solutions;
  • Product pricing; and
  • In response to feedback from librarians, we develop user case studies and marketing materials to support librarians’ internal-facing activities.

Society - including communities and the environment

Why they matter

At the heart of Bloomsbury is a strong social purpose – to inform, educate and entertain, to inspire a love for reading and to promote literacy. Making a positive contribution to the wider communities in which we operate is therefore integral to our activities. In addition, the environmental impact of Bloomsbury’s business activities is a growing consideration for us and we are committed to effecting improvements where practicable.

What matters to them

  • Bloomsbury behaves as a responsible and ethical corporate citizen.
  • We support relevant charities.
  • We contribute to community success.
  • We promote diverse representation within our workforce and in the content we publish.
  • We manage our environmental footprint.

Ways we engage

The very essence of our business is engagement with wider society, through the dissemination of stories and ideas, the stimulation of debate and dialogue, the support of learning and research and the enrichment of culture.

Information about our charitable donations, charitable initiatives and direct community engagement is set out on pages 57 to 59.

Bloomsbury also works in partnership with theatres and other organisations to publish their cultural output in the form of play texts and programme texts to accompany performances. The inclusion of live performance collections in Bloomsbury’s educational databases, made available for free to schools, provides a means of extending audience reach and ensuring cultural heritage is embedded within the curriculum.

Expanding the Group’s activities on sustainability is a key priority for us. Information on our activities in this area and progress during the year is set out on pages 60 to 66.

Information on Bloomsbury’s work in respect of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is set out on pages 53 to 56 of the 2024 Annual Report.

Considering the interests of our stakeholders

The Board supports Bloomsbury’s wider social purpose and charitable initiatives, including as part of the approval of the Company’s budget and strategic plan, where applicable.

The Board considers the long-term impact on the environment of Bloomsbury’s operations in its decision-making and receives annual reporting on the Group’s greenhouse gas emissions, generation of waste, and consumption of water, with comparisons to prior years.

The Board has oversight of Bloomsbury’s environmental policy and strategies for reducing the environmental impact of our business. The Executive Committee and the Board receive regular presentations on the activities of Bloomsbury’s Sustainability Steering Group, consider

recommendations from the Steering Group for proposed sustainability initiatives, and approve action where appropriate to improve Bloomsbury’s environmental footprint, including the setting of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Details of the Group’s environmental policy and performance can be found on pages 60 to 81 of the 2024 Annual Report.

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