Reach, publisher of the Mirror, Express and Star newspapers, said it expects to make £3m in savings this year, £1m more than forecast, and will have paid down its debt by nearly a third (£26m) by the year’s end.
In a trading update today, the group said it remains “on track” to make at least £20m in annual savings by 2020.
It said it will have reduced its debts from £81m to £55m this year, helped by £5m from the sale of empty properties in Liverpool and Cardiff and “the continued strong cash generation of the business”.
Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror) said revenue for the final three months of the year to the end of December is expected to fall by 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
But, when its £126.7m acquisition of the Express and Star titles in February is taken into account, revenues are up by 23 per cent for the period, the company said.
Integrating the Express and Star teams is also behind the savings boost.
Circulation revenue is expected to fall by 4 per cent and print advertising revenue by 15 per cent on a like-for-like basis, according to Reach.
Digital revenue is set to grow by 5 per cent over the three-month period with display ads and “transactional” revenue also growing by 8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Reach chief executive Simon Fox said: “I am pleased with the improved trading in the final quarter.
“This coupled with continued tight management of the business provides me with confidence that performance for the year is expected to be marginally ahead of expectations.
“We head into 2019 having made good progress with the integration of Express and Star and with clear plans in place for driving digital growth in the year ahead.”
In 2017 Reach made revenues of £623.2m, down from £713m on the previous year (which included an extra week’s trading). It made £122.5m profit before tax last year, down from £133.2m in 2016.
Picture: Reuters/Simon Dawson