Regional news publisher Archant saw total revenue fall 11 per cent to £95.5m in 2017, with the company blaming declining ad revenues and print readership for “disappointing” financial results.
Operating profit was down by 44 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £4.7m at the company, which publishes more than 50 titles including Norfolk daily the Eastern Daily Press.
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Like-for-like advertising revenue was down 12 per cent from £80.4m in 2016 to £70.9m last year, with circulation revenue also down year-on-year by about £2m to £24.6m.
Digital classified revenue was down on a like-for-like basis from £2.7m in 2016 to £2.3m last year, but non-classified digital revenue was up by £0.5m year-on-year to £5.9m
Print accounted for 82 per cent of revenue in 2017, against 18 per cent from non-print mediums.
Advertising made up 53 per cent of the total revenue income for the company, while print circulation accounted for 26 per cent. Overall online traffic was up from 6.9m monthly unique visitors in 2016 to 8.7m last year.
In a letter to shareholders last month, seen by Press Gazette, Archant chairman Simon Bax also blamed the shift of advertising to digital platforms, “in particular Google and Facebook”, for the financial decline.
In September last year Archant sold its local TV station Mustard TV and closed some titles in Kent and London, including the Kent On Sunday, accounting for a boost of £1.1m in revenue.
Said Bax: “I am looking forward to the time when I am able to communicate that the company has performed better than expected. Sadly 2017 is not that year.
“It was very disappointing financially as advertisiging revenues declined at an accerlating rate for all of the reasons I have outlined before, namely the shift of advertising to digital platforms, in particular Google and Facebook, and the long-term decline in readership of printed newspapers, coupled with a challenging property market.”
He said trading in 2018 had “started more promisingly than 2017” and that he was “confident” the team would deliver an “improved financial performance this year”.
Shareholders were not paid a dividend.
Archant’s headquarters are based in Norfolk (pictured).
Picture: Google Maps