Pearson sales drop on weakness in textbook and testing businesses

Publishing group Pearson has said its sales in the third quarter fell after a boom in online learning courses failed to offset steep falls in its textbook and testing businesses.

The FTSE 100 company said its underlying sales fell 10 per cent in the three months to September, following falls in the previous two quarters.

Pearson’s online education business was boosted by the pandemic, with sales jumping 32 per cent in the third quarter. Enrolment in virtual schools increased 41 per cent in the first nine months of 2020.

The company’s other main business groups faltered. Sales at the unit that markets textbooks in the US and Canada fell 15 per cent in the third quarter. Its international unit, which performs an English assessment on behalf of the UK home office as well as other exams, endured a 26 per cent tumble.

John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive who is set

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