Archant reports £0.9m operating loss

Privately-owned regional media publisher Archant has reported an operating loss of £0.9m in the first half of 2012.

The figure is an improvement on the first half of 2012 when the group had an operating loss of £1.1m.

A statement on Archant’s interim results this morning said headline turnover was down 1.3 per cent to £66.5m and operating profit (before amortisation of intangible assets and exceptional items) down 0.7m to £1.9m, a fall of 27 per cent year on year.

Archant chairman Richard Jewson said: ‘Our strategy of driving growth in our key markets, maintaining cost efficiencies and continuing to grow revenue streams through investment in new business, is producing results, albeit against strong headwinds.

‘Our core business is cash generative, circulations are growing and we are recording industry-leading sales performances. Our financial position is strong and a new banking agreement taking us through to 2016 was signed in June.

‘We are firm in the view that it is right to continue to increase expenditure in areas where we believe we can generate growth. We shall maintain the interim dividend at last year’s level of 6.4 pence per share.”

Elsewhere in today’s statement, Archant reported that local display advertising grew by 3.7 per cent, while newspaper and printing turnover fell 1.5 per cent to £43.2m.

Magazine revenue was down by 0.7 per cent to £23.3m, with advertising revenue falling 3.2 per cent and circulation down 2.6 per cent.

Group digital revenue was up 1.3 per cent to £3.1m.

The company said that in the first half of 2012 it spent £1m more than in 2011 in developing new businesses ‘and is continuing to seek out new opportunities to complement its existing portfolio”.

Monthly average unique visitors to its websites averaged 4.5m per month to June, up 21.5 per cent against the first half of 2011, according to Archant.

Jewson added: ‘We believe we are on the right track, though the absence of any real growth in the economy may hinder our progress. We have the right strategies, the right people and the right products for us to meet our customers’ changing expectations and deliver greater value to our shareholders.

‘The economy will eventually recover and when it does we will be in a strong position to take advantage of it.”

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