Archant: Operating profit down nearly 62%

Regional publisher Archant recorded a year-on-year decline in operating profit of 61.6 per cent during the first six months of the year as large declines in advertising took their toll.

Privately-owned company Archant, which publishes more than 140 magazines and newspapers, said operating profit was £5m, down from £8.1m made during the first half of 2008.

Overall revenue for the six months to the end of June declined by 24.4 per cent to £70.8m, a fall of more than £22m on the same period the previous year.

Archant chairman Richard Jewson said it would take time for the company to adjust to the “new and different world” it found itself in and restoring previous levels of profitability would also take time.

Jewson said: “Our management have responded strongly in the extraordinary market conditions by focussing on innovative ways of stimulating new and existing revenue streams, reducing operating costs by £14.8m and preserving cash, while seeking new ways to develop our digital businesses.

“We have also made capital investment of £2m in the final stages of the Thorpe Press extension and in our IT systems.”

The company said that revenue of £49.1m from its newspaper and printing division, which includes the Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press and the East Anglian Daily Times, was 25.3 per cent lower than the £65.7m it made in the same period in 2008 as advertising revenue slumped by 29.5 per cent.

The publisher’s magazine division had overall revenue of £21.7m, down 22.2 per cent on the £27.8m it made in the same period last year.

However, Archant said it was making good progress in digital markets as total digital revenues increased 18.9 per cent.

In March, Archant confirmed that a pay freeze had been imposed across the company.

The publisher is also looking to make around 34 redundancies – around a quarter of the local editorial workforce – as it merged the operations of its Norwich dailies.

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