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AFP sales up; deficit at $400,000

For the first time in 10 years, Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA’s publishing ministry, had a $1 million increase in product sales in 2005 and exceeded its sales goal, said Beth A. Lewis, president and chief executive officer. With actual sales of $38.9 million, the company exceeded its 2005 goal by more than $2 million.

But the company still fell short of operational breakeven. Unaudited financial results showed an operating loss of $400,000, less than the forecasted $573,000. John Rahja, chief financial officer, said the publisher’s defined benefit pension plan expenses were a key factor in the operating loss.

Lewis attributed the sales success to new resources such as The Lutheran Course, an adult forum curriculum and companion piece to The Lutheran Handbook. Part of the “Here We Stand” confirmation curriculum, the handbook has sold more than 116,000 copies. The companion course went on sale Dec. 28 and sold out the first day, Lewis said.

She also pointed to the handbook’s ecumenical version, The Christian Handbook, which sold more than 30,000 copies; subscriptions to “Sundays and Seasons.com,” a Web-based worship planning resource; and other “core resources” in faith formation and worship.

“Our sales and marketing are better and more focused, and customer service is much improved,” Lewis said.

In October 2005 the Augsburg Fortress board of trustees approved a revenue forecast of $40 million for 2006, up $1.1 million or 2.8 percent over 2005. To meet that goal the publisher plans to introduce several new products.


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