The axing of 1,700 staff and the sale or closure off 30 publications helped the UK’s biggest newspaper publisher – Trinity Mirror – stay comfortably in profit in 2009.
Operating profit in the most under pressure division, regional newspapers, dropped 47.4 per cent year on year to £35.9m on turnover down 23.5 per cent to £302.9m.
The national newspapers division, which includes the Mirror titles and the Daily Record, was more resilient. Operating profit there in 2009 dropped six per cent to £83.6m on revenue down 3.2 per cent to £460.4m.
Overall Trinity Mirror reported group operating profit of £105.4m (compared with £145.2m in 2008) on turnover of £756.5m (£871.7m). Group-wide digital revenue dropped to £35.6m (from £43.6m in 2008).
Trinity maintained its profit margins mainly through severe cost-cutting. It said that total costs for the year were cut by £67.9m to £658.4m.
This included the culling of one in five jobs at the company, or 1,700 positions; the closure of 15 offices and one print plant; a group wide pay freeze; and the closure or sale of 30 newspapers.
Chief executive Sly Bailey said: “Whilst the severity of the economic downturn experienced during 2009 impacted group revenues, the resilience of our brands and commitment of our staff ensured that we delivered profits ahead of expectations.”
Trinity said that circulation revenues showed “substantially more resilience than advertising” in 2009.
Trinity said that the company’s performance improved throughout 2009 with revenue down 17 per cent year on year in the first half but 10 per cent down in the second half.
Advertising revenues were down 17 per cent in the second half and 28 per cent down in the first half.
This pattern continued into this year, with group revenue down six per cent year on year in February.