Future “cautiously optimistic” despite drop in revenues

Specialist magazine publisher Future’s revenue for the first half of the financial year was down from £84 million to £78.3 million, according to the company’s half year results.

Thepublisher of Total Film and sites like musicradar.com said that the 2007 half-year normalised revenue, excluding products that were closed or sold before September 2007, was £79.2 million,a year-on-year drop of £1.1 million.

Pre-0tax profits were down by £2.1 million to £4.1 million, a year-on-year fall of 34 per cent. The company said that excluding exceptional credit, pre-tax profit was up 17 per cent.

The company reduced its debt, down 15 per cent to £25.1 million, making it ‘comfortable’said Future’s chief executive Stevie Spring. ‘The credit crunch, we can sit and watch from a fairly smug perspective,’she said.

She added: ‘We are cautiously optimistic that we will be resilient to that [the credit crunch]. We’ll be at the tail end of things that are cut so I am quietly confident about the future.”

Revenue was boosted by a 31 per cent increase in online advertising revenue, which now represents 19 per cent of ad revenue overall. The company’s online products had over 11 million unique users per month and it launched both musicradar.com and techradar.com during the period. The ‘radar’ umbrella sites also include Bikeradar.com and Gamesradar.com, which is the third biggest games information site globally.

UK revenue for the half-year fell by 2 per cent. Circulation revenue fell by 4 per cent, within this subscription revenue was up 9 per cent and export revenue grew 3 per cent, which Future said helped to offset the reduction of 9 per cent in newsstand revenue in the period.

Advertising revenues fell by 4 per cent overall, which the company attributed in part to the inclusion of U.S. revenues and the management of titles in decline.

Within its four core magazine portfolios, weaknesses in certain areas like personal computing, consumer electronics and automotive were offset by stronger performances in digital creative, cycling and Mac titles, the company said in its report.

Spring told Press Gazette: ‘We have to manage our portfolio to fit the changing needs of our audience. We have got fantastic new launches in the photo and crafting market, interesting experiments in the gaming market but we have to realise that some of the other titles that we print are at the end, or towards the end of their natural lifestage.”

Spring said the company was ‘pretty close’to closing Playstation2 magazine because a new generation of consoles and games were in the pipeline. The company sold Health & Fitness magazine to German publisher Burda. It will be published as part of Essential Publishing subsidiary whose portfolio includes Full House and Your Home.

Spring said the company had adopted a ‘do and learn’ethos to working online and that the technical teams at Future were as important as the editorial and commercial sides of the business. ‘We are all wearing L plates on the digital highway. You have two ways of learning online, do all the learning and then take the plunge or you experiment and try things and have permission to fail,’she said.

Spring did not rule out UK magazine launches in the next year.

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