'Back to basics' Future turns loss into £12m profit

Future chief executive Steve Spring has told Press Gazette that a year of ‘getting back to basics’has paid off after the publisher swung back into profit.

End of year results for the 12 months to the end of September showed an operating profit of £12.1m compared with a loss of £34m in the previous year. Pre-tax profit stood at £9.2m, compared with a loss of £36.7m in 2006.

Like-for-like revenue was slightly down at £159.2m compared with £163.9m in 2006.

Spring, who joined the company in July 2006 after six consecutive profit warnings, has made a string of changes over the past year, including the sale of its French and Italian businesses and the closure or sale of more than 50 under-performing magazines.

She said: ‘We’ve been refocusing the business on what we do best, rather than spread ourselves too thinly. We’re really getting back to basics.

‘We had to take some pretty harsh cost-cutting decisions. But, frankly, we’ve got about the same number of people now that we had a year ago – they’re just doing different things.”

Online advertising increased 50 per cent to £6.9m, taking a 14 per cent share of all advertising revenue. Future invested £11.5m in online during the year. Spring said the company invested more than it had planned to, but that it was worthwhile.

‘It was an advantage coming in from the outside, because you can look at the business unemotionally – no sacred cows,” she said.

“We need to concentrate on what we do best, where there’s faster growth. We obviously needed to find some funds we can invest in online, and online is one of the two success stories of the year.’

Spring said the other success story for Future is its customer publishing branch, which saw revenue increase by 59 per cent.

Future has recently secured the licence to publish official magazines for both Nintendo and Sony in the US market.

Combined with its partnership with Microsoft, it means Future is now the official publishing partner for all three global console manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Spring said: ‘We’ve now got all three official magazines in the two biggest markets outside of Japan, just when the games cycle is turning. We’re in pretty good shape for that.”

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