Trinity Mirror increases cost-saving target as profits fall

Trinity Mirror has increased its 2009 target for cost savings from £20m to £25m after reporting a 22 per cent decline in like-for-like full-year profits.

In its end-of-year results, published this morning, the national and regional newspaper publisher confirmed more cuts were planned for this year.

Trinity Mirror said it made £30m in cost savings last year, £10m ahead of target. It cut its headcount by nine per cent – with more than 800 staff leaving – closed 27 papers and sold another four.

“Faced with falling revenues and inflationary cost pressures, particularly significant newsprint price increases, 2009 will see a continued focus on the management of costs,” the company warned today.

“This includes a tight recruitment policy and the implementation of a group-wide pay freeze. We are confident of achieving new cost savings.”

Group revenues in 2008 fell 6.5 per cent from £932.3m to £871.7m, according to the newly released accounts.

And Trinty Mirror said the trend was likely to continue, with advertising revenue in January and February down 30 per cent on the same period last year – 37 per cent in the regionals and 10 per cent in the nationals.

Full-year operating profits for 2008 were down 22 per cent year on year, from £186.1m to £145.2m.

The statutory figure given in the accounts is an £88.4m loss – due to the writedown of the value of its sold newspapers.

In the regionals, profits fell 37.4 per cent to £68.2m and the profit margin fell from 24.5 per cent to 17.2 per cent.

In the nationals, the profit decline was 5.7 per cent – down from £94.3m to £88.9m – and the margin fell from 19.3 per cent to 18.7 per cent.

Total digital revenues were up 27.1 per cent to £43.6m, but Trinity Mirror warned that the severity of the economic downturn was likely to slow down its digital growth in the coming year.

Chief executive Sly Bailey said the publisher had performed “creditably in very difficult trading conditions”.

“While advertising revenues were under extreme pressure we delivered full-year results ahead of market forecasts,” she said.

“In spite of the downturn, I am a firm believer that careful management of our portfolio of strong print and online brands will enable us to navigate our way through the challenging market conditions as we make the transition to a new lower-cost multi-platform business model.

“With our proven track record of delivering substantial cost savings and driving efficiencies in our businesses, we remain well-positioned to manage our way through these uncertain times for the UK economy.”

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