Trinity Mirror says newspaper brands resilient in recession

Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, Daily Record and a host of regional titles, has reported a drop in pre-tax profit of 41.5% to £72.7m in its preliminary results for 2009.

Sly Bailey

The company saw operating profit drop by £39.8m to £105.4m on revenues down 12.4% to £763.3m.

Chief executive Sly Bailey (pictured) says that, in common with other media business, the publisher saw “all categories of advertising revenues suffer significant declines” but circulation revenues showed more resilience.

Like other publishers, Trinity Mirror is trying to diversify revenue streams and non-advertising revenues made up 57% of the total, up from 51% in 2008.

Cost cutting measures saw Trinity Mirror reduce its staff by a fifth over the period over the period and close 25 offices.

It closed or is selling 30 regional newspaper titles but has just announced that it has agreed to buy the bulk of Guardian Media Group’s regional titles, including the Manchester Evening News.

Group digital revenues, the stream traditional newspaper companies hope eventually will help offset the loss of print revenues, fell by 18.3% to £35.6m, with digital recruitment and property down, although there was growth of 22.7% in other digital revenues. The publisher has focused on developing digital offerings, such as 3am.co.uk and mirrorfootball.co.uk.

The nationals division saw revenues drop 3.2% to £460.4m. Circulations across all national titles declined but the publisher performance reflects a policy “of not chasing short-term circulation volume through cover price discounting and levels of marketing spend which do not provide a return on investment.” The publisher has raised the cover price on most of its national titles.

Regional titles saw revenues fall 23.5% to £302.9m as classified continued to collapse in the recession.

Chief executive Sly Bailey says: “Whilst the severity of the economic downturn experienced during 2009 impacted group revenues, the resilience of our brands and commitment of our staff ensured that we delivered profits ahead of expectations. We continued to reap the benefits of our investment in cutting edge IT systems which are driving new, more efficient ways of publishing across media platforms.”

She adds that the publisher will maintain a focus on costs while benefitting from an improvement in the rate of decline in ad revenues this year and the board anticipates a “satisfactory performance” in 2010.

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