Miller: looking at B2B acquisitions
Emap chief executive Robin Miller has signalled that there will be no more "wholesale" journalists’ job cuts, despite the continuing difficulties in advertising.
As Emap celebrated its return to the FTSE 100 and reported a pre-tax profit of £86m, Miller told Press Gazette: "There is no sign of an upturn in B2B advertising. It has been pretty tough.
"You have to take the rough with the smooth. I think we have had a bit of the rough and done something about it. So I don’t see any more cuts as far as Emap is concerned – not in any wholesale way as far as our journalists or our magazines are concerned. Indeed, we are trying to build the whole thing up."
Miller said he did not anticipate a worsening of conditions.
"What we are concerned about is just when it will get better. Fortunately, display advertising is only one revenue stream for us and others are doing rather better." Sectors such as healthcare, local government and construction had held up "pretty well", he added.
Miller also expressed an interest in acquisitions. "While there is a lot of launch activity going on, I think acquisitions are probably more important in B2B. We will be interested in any which fit in with our criteria."
As far as launches are concerned, Miller said Emap would look carefully at the women’s lifestyle market to fill holes left by the losses of Elle and Red.
"We are thinking very hard about our position and how to strengthen it, but we already have New Woman, Top SantÅ½, Heat, Closer and, of course, Pop, which luminaries like Madonna and Liz Hurley want to be on the front cover of."
Miller claimed the calibre of stars Pop managed to attract said a lot and suggested it had "rather more potential" than might appear.
"There are a lot of things we can do but you are not going to see a knee-jerk reaction. We regard this market as very important and we’ll be working very hard to do something about it," he said.
Heat and the recent launch, Closer, had grown well, with Closer’s sales "more or less" on target between 200,000 and 250,000, he said.
"My own favourites, Angling Times – which is where I started at Emap – and Motor Cycle News, have both been here a long time and are still as strong as ever." Miller said there were no plans to impose tighter controls on the content of international editions following the outrage sparked by a feature in Australian FHM over the Hills-
borough tragedy. "We all make mistakes and that was a pretty bad one. I just think that was a lesson to everybody to be a bit more careful about the nature of these things." He was also philosophical about the recent spate of high-profile departures from Emap.
"I think we are a home for good talent and will remain a home for good talent. Occasionally there will be something that has the potential to be more attractive, but we have got to be pretty adult about it. That is the way the world works. We regret it but these things happen."
By Ruth Addicott