Archant profit dips to £2.6m for half year

Regional newspaper publisher Archant saw its turnover and profit fall in the first six months of 2011 but it reported a 1 per cent increase in paid-for circulation revenue.

Turnover was down 4 per cent to £67.3m in the first half of the year while operating profit fell by £4.4m to £2.6m year on year. Newspaper and printing income, excluding acquisitions, was down 7.2 per cent to £44.9m, which the company said was due largely to a 13.2 per cent fall in advertising revenue.

Magazine revenue, however, was up 2.8 per cent to £22.3m, with property advertising revenue up 11.9 per cent and subscriptions revenue up 1.4 per cent. Total digital revenue grew 3.3 per cent to £3.1m – with digital display income up 10.9 per cent.

The company also said the number of unique visitors to the group’s websites had grown by more than a third in the last year to an average 3.6m per month

Despite the declining revenue and profit Archant chairman Richard Jewson said he was optimistic the group would perform better in the second half of the year provided there is ‘no further deterioration in our markets”.

Jewson said: ‘Performance of the business has been adversely impacted by reductions in newspaper print advertising, driven principally by economic factors, government cutbacks and steep increases in input prices”.

He believes Archant’s strategy of growing its paid-for circulation was evidenced by the fact circulation revenue was up 1 per cent – and by the fact that three of its four daily titles and ‘almost all’its weeklies have achieved growth in their paid circulation figures.

‘The economy remains fragile, and it is simply not possible to predict when an upturn may be seen, or indeed whether the UK economy will fall back into recession,’he added.

‘But we continue to invest in the development of our people and new products whilst seeking to improve the efficiency of all our processes.”

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