Growing digital revenue failed to offset declining income from print last year at the UK’s largest newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror.
The Daily Mirror publisher and regional press giant reported digital revenue up 12.8 per cent (on a like for like basis) but print revenue down 10.7 per cent and overall revenue down 8 per cent.
Total revenue and profits were boosted by the acquistion of fellow regional press giant Local World at the end of 2015 in a £220m deal.
Group revenue grew from £593m to £713m and pre-tax profit grew from £109.6m to £137.5m.
Trinity Mirror has made widespread redundancies and cutbacks across Local World which have resulted in £10m of savings in 2016. It said that a further £15m of cuts are set to be delivered at Local World this year.
Chief executive Simon Fox said: “We have delivered a strong financial performance in the year despite the challenging environment we face. I am particularly pleased with the progress we have made in growing our digital audience and revenue, and with the work we have done this year to develop and refine our strategic priorities for the year ahead.”
The total cost of dealing with the hacking scandal at the national Mirror titles is estimated at £52.5m.
Trinity Mirror said: “Although there still remains uncertainty as to how these matters will progress, the board remains confident that the
exposures arising from these historical events are manageable and do not undermine the delivery of the group’s strategy.”
Falling interest rates and higher inflation mean the deficit in the group pension fund has increased by £160.8m to £466m.
Trinity Mirror remains heavily dependant on print which provided £660m of revenue in 2016 versus £79m from digital.
The National Union of Journalists asked that the profit growth be accompanied by above-inflation pay rises for staff.
Trinity Mirror group father of chapel Martin Shipton said: “We note the positive tone of the chief executive’s message to the city and look forward to a change of approach in pay negotiations.
“So far our local members have been offered below-inflation salary increases. Clearly, on the basis of Simon Fox’s comments on the annual report, more can be afforded.
“At a time when significant further redundancies have been announced by the group, it is important to stress how only by investing in quality journalism will Trinity Mirror achieve a sustainable future.”
NUJ organiser Chris Morley said: “Clearly there is money in the coffers for serious investment in quality journalism. That means paying journalists better, not continuing to hack away at jobs and experience to the detriment of print titles and levelling up benefits for Local World colleagues.
“Shareholders are getting a rise in their dividend 2.5 times the current inflation rate.
“Our members in Local World, already feeling like second class citizens in the group, will be deeply concerned at the £15 million cuts aimed at them. Having already had £10 million slashed from Local World costs last year, this news will be extremely demoralising.” ”