Regional newspaper giant Archant has announced profits for the first half of the year down 8.9 per cent year-on-year.
But it has revealed strong growth in online advertising, up 63 per cent.
Total turnover for the six months was £93.6m (down from £98.5m a year ago) and profit before exceptional items was £13.1m (down from £14.5m).
Archant chairman Richard Jewson said: ‘Significant progress with the digital classified sites continues. Despite difficulties in the property markets, homes24 saw unique visitors increase by 117 per cent in the first half and the number of properties on the site increasing to in excess of 100,000. jobs24 and drive24 continue to grow significantly as functionality improves and with increased marketing activity.”
He added: ‘We have entered a period of significant difficulty for the regional press, evidenced by share price movements of quoted peer companies, with both cyclical downturn and structural changes impacting the sector. The depth and duration of the downturn is as yet unclear and we expect the difficult trading conditions to continue for at least the next year.”
And he warned of possible cutbacks saying: ‘Our capable management team will actively seek efficiencies and cost reductions to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn and focus efforts on developing our on-line businesses. The company has a strong balance sheet, market leading brands and is well positioned to weather the economic storm.”
Archant is the UK’s largest independently-owned regional newspaper company and describes itself as a ‘a community media group”. It owns daily and weekly local papers as well as consumer magazines and web-only businesses.