Cut-price Daily Star and digital investment help push Northern and Shell £24.9m into red

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Northern and Shell, the parent company of the Express and Star titles, fell into the red in 2015, as it took a financial hit on its investment in digital, a drop in cover price revenues, and a write down of is printing assets.

Northern and Shell reported a loss of £24.8 million in the year ending December 31 2015 on revenues of £241.4 million.

The £24.8 million loss compares to pre-tax profits of £333.7 million the year before, helped by the sale of Channel 5 to Viacom for £463 million.

The £24.8 million includes an £8.5 million impairment charge relating to the closure of its Broughton printers, the cost of cover price reductions on the Daily Star and “major investments in the group’s ongoing digital transition”.

The group said its pension deficit has been reduced from £52.8 million to £21.6 million in the period.

Northern and Shell said: “Significant investments have been made in the group’s digital assets, a response to the high growth of monthly unique users, with the intention to grow digital revenues and offset declining print advertising revenues.

“Despite tough market conditions, the group will maintain its strategy to ensure the print brands continue to meet the needs and requirements for readers and alike, including an ongoing cover price focus, one which has paid off significantly thus far in 2016, with print brands selling more copies in total week on week than last year.”

Northern and Shell also confirmed that it has been granted planning permission to build new housing, a secondary school and commercial office space at its old 15.5 acre West Ferry Printworks in London.

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