Overall Economic Developments

In 2015, the global economy continued to expand at a moderate and uneven pace. The growth of the real gross domestic product (GDP) fell slightly to 3.1 percent compared with a rise of 3.4 percent in 2014. This is mainly attributable to weak growth in the emerging markets. By contrast, the economic situation in the developed economies was robust.

In the eurozone, the economy improved somewhat and showed an increase in real GDP of 1.5 percent, from 0.9 percent in the same period in the previous year. In particular, the accommodative monetary policy of the European Central Bank strengthened domestic demand while exports suffered from a slowdown in global trading.

The German economy continued its economic recovery in the reporting period. Real GDP grew by 1.7 percent compared to 1.6 percent in the previous year. In France, too, the economy posted an upward trend once more. Real GDP growth was 1.2 percent in 2015 compared with 0.2 percent in 2014. In the UK, economic activity slowed somewhat, with an increase in real GDP of 2.4 percent compared to a rise of 3.0 percent in the previous year.

The US economy picked up again over the course of the year after a poor start. Overall, real GDP increased by 2.4 percent in 2015 compared with a rise of 2.4 percent in 2014.

Developments in Relevant Markets

The following analysis focuses on markets and regions of a sufficient size if their trend can be adequately aggregated and if they are strategically important from a Group perspective.

Overall, the European TV advertising markets grew in 2015. The TV advertising markets in Germany and Hungary showed moderate growth, while the TV advertising markets in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Croatia were stable or posted slight growth. The TV advertising market in Spain grew once more.

Sales of printed books in the United States saw moderate growth, while publishing sales of e-books fell sharply as a result of changes to sales conditions. The market for printed books in the UK grew significantly. The German- and Spanish-language book markets showed largely stable development.

The magazine markets in Germany and France in 2015 were characterized by significantly declining print advertising business and moderately declining circulation business, while the digital business posted strong growth.

As a result of the trend toward outsourcing, the Arvato businesses for Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Financial Solutions, IT Solutions and Digital Marketing enjoyed moderate to significant growth.

Overall, the relevant European print markets declined in 2015, while the offset market showed far more stable development than the gravure printing market. The North American book printing market saw a moderate decline.

The global music publishing markets showed slight growth, while the markets for recorded music stabilized, having been in decline for a number of years.

As expected, the education markets in the United States grew strongly in 2015 in the market segments where Bertelsmann is involved – namely, healthcare and technology, online services and university education.