Northern & Shell says profit tripled in 2010

Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell claims it tripled its pre-tax profit to £30.3m last year and that formerly loss-making TV station Channel 5 is already in the black.

Accounts for Northern and Shell Ltd are due to be filed with Companies House this week. But a press statement from the company says they will show pre-tax profits up from £8.9m in 2009 to £30.3m in 2010 on turnover of £524.8m (up £103.3m on the previous year).

Desmond bought Channel 5 for £99.1m from European entertainment network RTL last July. Northern and Shell said that after a £11m restructure, which saw a number of senior management figures leave, the broadcaster was operating with an underlying profit by September.

In a statement the company said Channel 5’s performance was the ‘highlight of a transforming year for Northern & Shell”.

In January the company commissioned a new print plant at an industrial estate in Luton, which is expected to open toward the end of 2011 and could become home to more than 1,000 staff.

The company’s 2010 accounts will also reveal that cutting the price of its newspapers – including the Daily Star and Daily Express – for ‘recession-hit readers’cost it £43m.

IDespite these ‘heavy investments’, the company said it remains in a ‘healthy financial position” with £91.7m of cash on its balance sheet at 31 December, 2010.

Finance director Robert Sanderson said: ‘The significant step changes we have made to the business in the last year leave us well placed to further improve our financial performance and to build on our broader media interests.”

Earlier this year Desmond was reported to have held informal talks with the Daily Mail and General Trust about buying his newspaper group. In recent weeks it was claimed the company was in talks with Time Warner about buying its magazine business, which includes OK! Magazine.

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