Does Learn Africa Plc still have what it takes to compete in the Nigerian book publishing industry today? This is a pertinent question, particularly so when you put into perspective the fact that the company is one of the oldest players on the book publishing scene. Learn Africa is also one of the least known companies in the country, no thanks to a major corporate identity change in 2011 which was hardly backed up with a much needed awareness campaign.
The company is the focus of Nairametrics’ company profile for today. Find out all there is to know about it, particularly how it has fared following its stock listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the year 1996.
Corporate information about Learn Africa Plc
Interestingly, many of Nigeria’s old and young generations have made use of academic materials produced by Learn Africa Plc. It is a company with over fifty years’ history in the country, having been established since 1961.
At the point of incorporation, the company’s name was Longman Nigeria and it was owned completely by the Harlow-based book company, Longman Group UK Limited. By July 1996, some 35 years after incorporation, the company’s shares were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Fast-forward to 2008, when Longman Nigeria Plc had become a subsidiary of the UK-based education company, Pearson Plc. This development followed Pearson’s acquisition of 51% controlling shareholding in Longman Group UK Limited. But the new ownership structure did not last, as both Longman Nigeria Plc and Pearson Plc “mutually agreed to become separate corporate entities in Nigeria.” That same year, Longman Nigeria Plc changed its name to Learn Africa Plc.
The company’s products and services
As a key player in the Nigerian book publishing industry, Learn Africa Plc specializes in the publication and marketing/distribution of educational materials for a wide range of readers. In other words, the company has textbooks for learners/readers at nursery, primary and secondary school levels, all through to tertiary education level. According to information available on the company’s website, Learn Africa Plc has also “distinguished itself in the marketing of reference, professional and general reading materials.”
The company claims to be Nigeria’s biggest educational publisher with the widest range of academic resources and most expansive distribution across the country.
Outside of its main scope as a publisher, it also offers training and development programmes for teachers. Similarly, it offers education consultancy services. It recently incorporated e-learning as one of the services it offers by providing digital learning content on its platform.
Examples of its textbooks that are currently used across Nigerian schools today are:
- Science is Fun (Book 1)
- New Method Mathematics (For Primary Schools)
- Basic Science 1 (An Integrated Science Course for Junior Secondary Schools)
- Industrial Relations in Nigeria, etc.
Learn Africa’s target market
As you may have deduced from the foregoing, the company’s target market comprises learners at all levels: teachers, academic institutions, book stores, libraries, and everyone else to whom books are important. As such, all the books published by this company must align with what consumers want. Published materials are simultaneously marketed to students, academics, as well as book stores, schools, etc.
Now considering the fact that the education industry in Nigeria is booming, it is safe to assume that Learn Africa is in a really good position to take advantage.
Who is the CEO in charge of this company’s affairs?
In 2016, Alhaji Salisu Bala Hassan (FCE) was announced as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Learn Africa Plc. He had succeeded Mr. Segun Oladipo.
Alhaji Hassan has had more than a two-decade long relationship with the publishing house, having joined in 1996 as a Sales Representative. By the early 2000s, (2002 to be precise), he had been promoted to a Senior Sales Representative. His promotions continued in the coming years, even as he became the Area Manager of the company’s North-Western region.
In 2010, Hassan was made the Acting District Manager of the company’s North-Western region. By 2011, he had become a full-time District Manager. He had also been the Head of Sales for the company’s Northern region.
He is said to be an alumnus of the National Open University of Nigeria.
A look at the company’s competitors
The Nigerian publishing industry is rife with intense competition among the old dominant players, as well as the new entrants in the business. Among the oldest publishing houses are companies like HEBN Publishers Plc, University Press Plc, Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers Limited, Literamed Publications Nigeria Limited, etc. These companies are all invested in the publication and distribution of learning materials for schools, and as such are a lot more directly in competition with Learn Africa than the newly-established publishing houses.
Learn Africa is also in competition with newer publishing houses such as Kachifo Limited, Cassava Republic Press, Parresia Publishers, etc. This is the case because much like these newer publishers who are mainly in the business of publishing literary works of fiction, Learn Africa also publishes story books.
Can it survive competition posed by newer publishers?
It should be noted that newer publishers do not pose as much competition to Learn Africa Plc, compared to the older ones. This is bearing in mind that whereas the older publishers are mostly interested in publishing and marketing academic materials, the newer ones are interested in publishing and marketing lighter reads such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
That said, an example of Learn Africa’s major competitor would be University Press Plc. A brief comparison of both companies’ financial reports for full year 2017 shows that Learn Africa is doing fairly well in terms of competition. This is because it generated as much as ₦2.4 billion in profit with a profit after tax of ₦266 million compared to University Press which made a revenue of ₦1.6 billion with a profit after tax of ₦118 million.
An overview of the company’s financial performance in recent years
Learn Africa Plc has failed to record any meaningful growth over the past five years. The company’s annual revenue, on the average, remained within the two billion naira mark. Profit increased from ₦125 million in 2013 to ₦296 million in 2017.
The company is, however, in a good position to make improvements in coming years, judging from its well-established presence in the country, as well as the ever-present need for books.
The company’s share price recently set a 52-week high when it traded ₦1.60 this past Friday on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This is impressive because it marks some 91.57% increase in share price.