Emap consumer magazines 'weak but improving'

Emap’s consumer magazines division is showing signs of recovery, with women’s weeklies such as Grazia offsetting continuing declines in the men’s monthly market.

Announcing its half-year results this morning, covering the six months from April to September, Emap said profit margins in its consumer titles had improved, making up for a fall in revenue.

Consumer magazine revenue fell from £185m in the same period last year to £173m – but profits rose 3 per cent to £35m.

Women’s weeklies – especially Grazia – continued to perform well, but the monthly portfolio was down year-on-year, primarily due to the men’s titles.

Advertising revenue across the consumer division was down 10 per cent in total.

Emap described the outlook for consumer magazine circulation as “mixed”, while advertising in the sector was described as “weak but improving”.

“We anticipate that the current trends in the consumer magazine market will continue for the rest of our 2008 financial year although, based on our forward bookings, trading in the second half should show some improvement,” the company said today.

Emap said the prospects for its B2B magazines were “reasonable” – with events and information services likely to be the biggest growth areas.

B2B revenue on a like-for-like basis was up 4 per cent at £134m. Profits in this sector fell 7 per cent to £39m due in part to a £5m investment in new product development – including money spent growing the Worth Global Style Network.

Excluding Emap France – which was disposed of last August – continuing group revenues were up 1 per cent to £386m.

Pre-tax profits were down 16 per cent to £80m, but when disposals and closures are taken out of the equation, the normalised group operating profit was up 6 per cent to £93m.

Despite effectively put itself up for sale earlier this year, Emap has continued to make a number of acquisitions.

Purchases in the past six months have included Infrastructure Journal, Planet Retail and a 40.1 per cent stake in Next Gen Publishing – Emap’s first move into the rapidly growing Indian market.

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