”Our business developed very well during the first nine months of 2021 in both Learning and Media Finland. The Group’s net sales grew by 20% compared to January–September a year ago as the impact of acquisitions was complemented with strong organic net sales growth. The Group’s operational earnings improvement of 28% was even stronger than the sales growth. We have updated our profitability outlook for 2021 and now expect operational EBIT margin excluding PPA to be around 15.5% based on the good performance of the first nine months and decreased uncertainty related to events and B2B advertising.
In Learning, the third quarter is always the most important quarter of the year. This year, its importance to our business was even higher in two ways: Santillana in Spain was onboard for the first time, and there was a curriculum renewal ongoing in Poland. In these two countries, sales of learning materials are even more focused around the start of the new school year, and thus the third quarter, than in our other operating markets. The integration of Santillana has progressed according to our plan. As the corona restrictions have been easing out, we have also been able to visit each other face-to-face, which has been very valuable. The Santillana team is well-prepared for the educational reform in 2022−23, although its pace and phasing is still uncertain as the local authorities in the Spanish provinces have not yet taken the final decisions. Ahead of the new curriculum, the bookstores and distributors typically return the books they do not need any more, but due to the uncertainty related to the reform in 2022−23, the level of these returns and their remaining value is still uncertain. In January–September, Learning’s organic growth of 6% was even above our long-term target of 2−5%. It is good to keep in mind that the more the learning business grows, the more loss-making Q1 and Q4 become due to the typical seasonality."