Trinity Mirror’s cost-cutting enabled it to edge up profit margins in 2005, despite reduced turnover.
Overall revenue dropped 1.3 per cent to £1,112.8 million, but operating profit edged up by 1.7 per cent to £250.2 million, giving a profit margin of 22.5 per cent.
Chief executive Sly Bailey revealed that an £83 million investment in presses meant the national titles will be in full colour by 2008 — enabling them to keep up with The Sun and News of the World, which are expected to make the colour switch around the same time.
She said that after challenging advertising conditions in 2005, with recruitment advertising particularly hard hit, the advertising market was expected to "remain difficult" this year.
This means more cutbacks are planned to maintain the bottom line and she said another £15 million of savings will have to be found in 2006.
Trinity Mirror’s 240 local and regional papers continue to be by far the company’s biggest source of profits.
Revenue dipped 1.6 per cent to £509.5 million, but profit increased 0.9 per cent to £149.5 million.
The profit margin increased from 27.7 per cent to 28.2 per cent.
Both the free daily Metro joint ventures with Associated Newspapers and the regional newspaper websites delivered small profits, of £1.9 million and £1.8 million respectively.
The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People revenues were down 2.9 per cent to £388.3 million, but profit increased 2.4 per cent to £67.9 million.
The national newspaper market was described in the preliminary results as "extremely challenging".
Circulation of the Daily Mirror dropped 5.5 per cent over 2005, but Trinity Mirror claimed that "editorial investment to create a more appealing product coupled with investment in product availability" had slowed the rate of decline from 7.7 per cent in the first half to 3.4 per cent in the second half.
The Racing Post continued to be highly profitable in 2005, with revenue up 5.2 per cent to £50.6 million and operating profit increased slightly from £17.3 million to £17.4 million, giving a profit margin of 34 per cent.