”Sanoma’s performance was strong in the exceptional year of 2020. Our net sales grew driven by acquisitions, and our operational EBIT excl. PPA improved with margin being very close to the previous year’s level. Despite the exceptional circumstances throughout the whole year, we finalised four major transformational M&A transactions: the acquisitions of Santillana Spain and the regional news media business in Finland and the divestments of Sanoma Media Netherlands and the online classifieds business Oikotie in Finland. With this transformational year behind us, the learning business will contribute close to 70% of the Group’s operational earnings going forward.
The Group now consists of two focused and leading businesses in their own fields: a growing European K12 learning business and a leading cross-media business in Finland.
The full year net sales and earnings of Learning grew significantly, driven by acquisitions completed in 2019, in particular Iddink. In addition, we saw strong comparable growth of 5% driven by the curriculum renewals in Poland and in the Netherlands. As the share of the learning business in Sanoma’s total portfolio grows it becomes more determinant of the Group’s overall profitability, including the typical annual seasonality with loss-making first and fourth quarters. The lower margin businesses of Iddink and itslearning were part of Learning for the first full year and had an adverse impact on its operational EBIT margin. In addition, we saw the desired transformation from rented books to annually sold books in all of Iddink’s operating countries gathering speed. The annual margin of sold books is lower as all costs are booked at one go, whereas the costs of rented books are capitalised and depreciated over a longer period of time – the short-term impact of this was visible in Learning’s fourth quarter result.
At the end of December 2020, we completed the acquisition of Santillana Spain, the leading K12 learning material provider in Spain. We are very much looking forward to integrating the business together with the experienced and committed management team. In 2021, the Spanish learning material market is expected to decline ahead of the next curriculum renewal to be implemented in 2022–2023, which is expected to accelerate market growth significantly. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic impacted the Spanish learning market in 2020 and led to slightly lower sales. This trend might continue depending on the prolongation of lockdowns and school closures."