Revenues at Reach, publisher of the Mirror, Express and Star newspapers, grew 4.4 per cent year-on-year in the first four months of 2019.
In a trading update issued today ahead of its annual general meeting, Reach said the growth reflected the effect of the £127m acquisition of the Daily Express and Daily Star titles, in February last year.
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On a like-for-like basis, including the Express and Star as if the titles had been owned by Reach from the start of 2018, group revenue fell by 6.4 per cent year-on-year between 31 December and 28 April.
Reach said this was an improvement on a 7.8 per cent like-for-like fall in the first four months of 2018.
Digital revenue, from both display advertising and transactional income, grew by 8.4 per cent, while print revenues from circulation, advertising and third-party printing contracts, fell by 7.9 per cent.
The publisher said it remains on track to make at least £20m in annual savings by 2020.
Reach chief executive Simon Fox said: “I am pleased with the solid start to the year and the positive improvement in revenue trends.
“Our early term loan repayment demonstrates the continued success of the Express and Star acquisition and the strong cash generation of the group.
“We also continue to make good strategic progress, most importantly with a range of digital projects to drive both page views and revenue, the effects of which we expect to see in the second half of the year.”
A delegation from the National Union of Journalists attended the Reach AGM today and urged for more support to be given to staff to help them work through the annual cost savings.
“These changes can often be extremely distressing for employees and if sufficient care is not given, stress caused can literally be a matter of life and death,” the NUJ Reach group chapel said in a letter to shareholders.
“So we hope you would support better management of stress and mental health in Reach workplaces.”
A loan taken out for the Express Newspapers acquisition was reduced to £39.7m after £20.3m due in December 2019 was paid back early.
The company’s net debt is now at £22.2m with cash balances of £17.5m.
In 2018 Reach made adjusted revenues of £723.9m and profit before tax of £141.9m, both figures up by 16 per cent year-on-year.
Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire