News & Events

John Smith’s website recognised as one of the Top 500 Retail websites in the UK.12/02/16

John Smith’s website has been recognised as one of the UK’s Top 500 Retail websites in the prestigious and authoritative InternetRetailing annual survey. John Smith’s joins other well-known brands including WH Smith and Waterstones in this research based survey that recognises “leading ecommerce and cross-channel” retailers.

Commenting on this recognition, Peter Gray, CEO and Chairman of JS Group, said: “This is a tremendous accolade and reflects the effort and emphasis we have placed on providing students with a great online experience. At John Smith’s, our ecommerce sales now make up nearly 30% of our overall sales and that percentage is set to increase. This is driven in part by the evolving purchasing habits of students and in part by the great array of goods and services we can offer online.”

Developing this theme, David Marshall, JS Group Commercial Director, added: “We have spent the past couple of years designing and developing our online student stores so that they can deliver all the resources students need to be successful. We offer a great range of books but also a comprehensive range of laptops and tablets, stationery, art materials, online courses, office equipment, sports equipment, bikes, professional journal subscriptions, the list goes on. Working with a carefully selected group of partner suppliers such as Office Depot, we can offer students a much greater choice than we can do within our on campus stores. We have been pleased with the results and our ecommerce sales have grown by 78% over the past two years since we commenced this extended ecommerce strategy. We are also working with other partners interested in the UK Higher Education market by developing directly branded web offerings, be that for other independent book retailers, publishers directly or other non-book specialists with an interest in the sector.

JS Group
JS Group is dedicated to delivering better outcomes in the HE sector through three operating businesses. Aspire is the leading technical solution for the cashless distribution of bursaries, scholarships and other financial support packages to students. John Smith’s operate campus based student stores that specialise in supplying textbooks, tablets and other IT equipment, while JS International operates campus based student stores internationally.


News & Events

2010/11 Performance Press Release28/03/12

JS Group, a market leading information partner dedicated to delivering better outcomes to customers in the Higher Education (HE) and legal markets, today released its 2010/11 full-year results which reflect steady and sustained improvement in operating performance despite difficult market conditions.


  • Total revenue of £39.6m (£40.5m in prior year).
  • Strong organic growth from the HE business of over 10.5%.
  • Legal performance impacted by Government spending decisions. Outside of the reduction in Government expenditure, a 3% organic growth was delivered.
  • Profit before tax of £244k with a 10% increase in net assets.
  • Repayment during the year of the final instalment of long term borrowing.

Commenting on the results, Peter Gray, CEO and Chairman, said:
"I am delighted with the underlying performance of the Group and the progress we made during the year to deliver increased value to our customers and to our publishing partners. Our performance in the HE market was particularly noteworthy with over 10% organic growth and good progress with our strategic priorities of deepening our relationships with universities through adoption of our Aspire technology platform and growing our business in Africa. Aspire delivered over 40% growth in the year whilst our international revenues grew 12%. Both continue to be priority areas and growth drivers for the business."

HE Division
The HE Division continued to grow at double digit rates and to increase market share.

The Division has three business components:

  • UK campus bookselling and retailing maintained its strong market position and its innovative approach to bookselling was recognised with the Academic and Professional Chain Bookseller of the Year award for 2011.
  • Aspire which is a technology platform for the cashless distribution of bursaries, scholarships and other financial awards by Universities. Aspire revenues increased by 40% in the year.
  • International business centred in Botswana which delivered 12% growth.

The strong growth continues into the current year with a number of new contracts:

  • The University of Southampton have chosen Aspire to deliver their student Entitlement Scheme from September 2012.
  • A six year agreement has been reached with Sunyani Polytechnic in Ghana to provide an Aspire scheme and campus retailing combination.
  • A five year agreement has been reached with Limkokwing Botswana to provide an Aspire scheme and campus retailing combination.

Legal Division
The Legal Division, trading under the Hammicks Legal Information Services brand, saw a decline in revenues related to spending reductions by the UK Government. The Government remains an important customer and Hammicks worked with various Government departments to ensure they could achieve their budget targets whilst retaining a high level of service. Outside of the Government sector, revenues grew by 3% as more customers adopted the Hammicks technology-based procurement system.
Market conditions in legal remain challenging but the focus of Hammicks on working with customers to reduce their overall information costs positions the business well to increase market share.

Commenting on future prospects for the group, Peter Gray said:
"I am pleased with the progress we are making based on our commitment to exceptional service, our innovative technology solutions and our professional and dedicated staff.
We will continue to grow and transform our business model with our focus on innovative solutions that deliver better outcomes for our customers both in the UK and internationally."