Archant chief: Regionals are still doing well

Archant chief executive John Fry has hit back at suggestions that the regional press is in decline, after the company reported a 2.75 per cent increase in revenues in its interim results.

The increase is on a like-for-like basis and excludes acquisitions and disposals. Operating profits are up 1.12 per cent.

In the six months to 30 June, overall revenue increased by 2.1 per cent to £98.5m and total operating profit was up 8.6 per cent to £10m.

‘The challenge is greater than it has been, but that doesn’t mean that the sector is fundamentally flawed,’said Fry.

‘Archant has put considerable strategic focus on changing its business to deal with changes in local marketplaces.”

Archant said it had adopted a ‘layered approach’to publishing, producing a broad range of products including newspapers, magazines and online classified advertising.

Its regional newspaper titles include the Eastern Daily Press, the Norwich Evening News and the Ipswich Star.

Recruitment advertising, one of the toughest markets in the sector, has shown ‘solid growth”, helped by online revenues, Archant said.

Fry added: ‘We have demonstrated that tight cost control on the low-growth areas of the business allows you to invest in higher growth activities.

‘Our web audiences are growing in excess of 50 per cent a year. The advertising revenue we generate from those audiences is also growing.

‘Our local magazine business is showing audience growth, revenue growth, with an increasing number of the titles delivering profits as they become established.”

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