Pearson sales fall despite rise in online courses

Penguin books
Penguin books on a shelf. Last year Pearson struck a £530m deal to sell its stake in Penguin Random House. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Sales at education giant Pearson (PSON.L) fell 10% in the three months to September as a slump in its textbook and testing business eclipsed a rise in online learning.

It was the third consecutive quarter of decline, but an improvement on the second quarter’s 28% fall.

The FTSE 100 publisher, which is transitioning from traditional textbooks to digital, has suffered from tumbling sales this year as schools and testing centres shut in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, digital revenue did manage to soften the pandemic blow as its online education business posted a 32% increase.

Enrolment in virtual schools jumped 41% in the first nine months of the year but overall sales were 14% lower in the period compared with 2019.

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