Operating profit boost for Express Newspapers - but Health Lottery keeps parent company in the red

Express Newspaper Group increased its operating profit in the first six months of 2013 to £18m, up from £10m in the same period last year.

The figures were revealed in a trading update from parent company Northern & Shell, which gave a snapshot overview of its financial strength at the year’s halfway point.

The update from the Richard Desmond-owned group, which also includes Channel 5 and OK! magazine, showed that total turnover in 2012 was down compared to the previous 12 months, falling from £688.8, to £622.1m. However, its operating loss also fell over the same period, from £20.8m to £5.6m.

The improved performance of Express Newspapers, which publishes the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, was attributed to “increased efficiencies from our new printing presses in Luton and savings on newsprint”.

Channel 5’s turnover was particularly badly hit in 2012, according to the statement. The broadcaster suffered an 8.6 per cent fall in revenue for the year from £356.3m to £325.7m.

However, it has improved in the first six months of this year, posting a profit of £20.6m, compared with a £16.1m loss in the same period in 2012.

The Health Lottery, the game launched by Desmond in 2011 to compete with the National Lottery, made an operating loss of £15.2m, although N&S emphasised that the business “remains in the development phase”.

Group financial director Robert Sanderson said: “We are greatly encouraged by the turnaround in our trading results in the first half of this year and are confident that we will continue to build on this much-improved financial performance."

Northern and Shell claimed it is investing £25m in "targeting digital transformation across our portfolio of media assets".

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