Guardian Media Group posts big losses

Guardian Media Group, owner of GMG Radio and Guardian News & Media, has reported a pre-tax loss of £89.8 million for the year to the end of March as the recession bites across all its divisions.

Carolyn McCall
Carolyn McCall

The group, owned by the Scott Trust, made a pre-tax profit of £306.4 million in 2008, however, the loss reported this year includes several significant non-trading losses.

Turnover from continuing operations came in at £405.4 million, down from £501.1 million in 2008. Group turnover including share of joint venture companies Trader Media Group (TMG) and Emap (with Apax) came in at £637.9 million, up from £625.7 million.

The company points out that the 2008 turnover included a contribution of £63.3 million from TMG, owner of Auto Trader, for the part of the year when it was still a wholly-owned subsidiary. If this is removed revenue decline was 7.6%.

TMG’s turnover is not included in Group turnover for 2009 as it is now accounted for separately as a joint venture, as is Emap.

Guardian News & Media (GNM), the core publishing business controlling The Guardian and The Observer and the associated websites, posted an operating loss of £36.8 million compared to a loss £26.4 million in 2008. on turnover down from £261.9 million to £253.6 million.

GNM Regional Media has suffered from the “underlying problems of the sector” alongside the recession and reported an operating profit dropping from £14.3 million to £0.5 million year-on-year on turnover down from £120.5 million to £94.5 million. Advertising revenues fell 30% with Recruitment down 34% and Property by 46%.

The division has seen deep cuts in head count and a reorganisation but conditions have worsened and the division has been making a monthly trading loss for the past six months.

The radio division, which includes Smooth Radio, outperformed competitors and while the total radio advertising market fell by more than 14%, GMG Radio declined 5%. However, “due to difficult trading conditions and continued brand investment”, the division moved into operating losses of £6.6 million compared to £0.01 million in 2008 on turnover slightly down to £46.6 million.

Like other media groups, GMG is struggling in a shrinking advertising market and a declining market for its print products. Along with its competitors it is examining how it can generate more non-advertising revenue from its digital activities.

GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall (pictured) says: “The sharp decline in the advertising market had an impact on each of the wholly owned businesses. All are reducing costs to a more sustainable level in this harsh new environment.”

The company says that it will continue to remodel its businesses and reduce costs while going on “to engage with government and regulators to help shape the industries in which we operate.”

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