Smiths News has expanded its books business with the acquisition of European and African academic library services contracts from Blackwell UK for £2.1m.

It is the latest in a string of acquisitions for its Bertam Books arm as Smiths News looks to diversify away from its core newspaper and magazine wholesaling operation.

Smiths News said the deal would strengthen its international footprint.

“Our ability to build both scale and reach will enable Bertrams to target key international markets as we continue to capitalise on expansion opportunities,” said CEO Mark Cashmore.

Smiths News this morning reported a 15.8% increase in pre-tax profits to £24.9m on sales up 1.3% to £904.7m in the six months to 28 February.

Like-for-like newspaper sales fell 3.9% during the period, with magazine sales down 8.3%.

Some 27% of its profits were generated outside newspaper and magazine wholesaling, up from 17% last year. It aims to increase this to 50% by 2016.