Archant revenues fell in 2017 with shift in ad spend to Google and Facebook partly blamed in letter to shareholders

Regional news publisher Archant saw total revenue fall 11 per cent to £95.5m in 2017, with the company blaming declining ad revenues and print readership for “disappointing” financial results.

Operating profit was down by 44 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £4.7m at the company, which publishes more than 50 titles including Norfolk daily the Eastern Daily Press.

Like-for-like advertising revenue was down 12 per cent from £80.4m in 2016 to £70.9m last year, with circulation revenue also down year-on-year by about £2m to £24.6m.

Digital classified revenue was down on a like-for-like basis from £2.7m in 2016 to £2.3m last year, but non-classified digital revenue was up by £0.5m year-on-year to £5.9m

Print accounted for 82 per cent of revenue in 2017, against 18 per cent from non-print mediums.

Advertising made up 53 per cent of the total revenue income for the company, while print circulation accounted for 26 per cent. Overall online traffic was up from 6.9m monthly unique visitors in 2016 to 8.7m last year.

In a letter to shareholders last month, seen by Press Gazette, Archant chairman Simon Bax also blamed the shift of advertising to digital platforms, “in particular Google and Facebook”, for the financial decline.

In September last year Archant sold its local TV station Mustard TV and closed some titles in Kent and London, including the Kent On Sunday, accounting for a boost of £1.1m in revenue.

Said Bax: “I am looking forward to the time when I am able to communicate that the company has performed better than expected. Sadly 2017 is not that year.

“It was very disappointing financially as advertisiging revenues declined at an accerlating rate for all of the reasons I have outlined before, namely the shift of advertising to digital platforms, in particular Google and Facebook, and the long-term decline in readership of printed newspapers, coupled with a challenging property market.”

He said trading in 2018 had “started more promisingly than 2017” and that he was “confident” the team would deliver an “improved financial performance this year”.

Shareholders were not paid a dividend.

Archant’s headquarters are based in Norfolk (pictured).

Picture: Google Maps

Comments

7 thoughts on “Archant revenues fell in 2017 with shift in ad spend to Google and Facebook partly blamed in letter to shareholders”

  1. How can any company survive after losing 44% profit y/y and wiping £10 million off it’s core business: advertising revenue?
    I’m absolutely staggered by the figures in the report, shown to me by a very frustrated and once patient shareholder,which shows losses across all parts of the business yet the chairman offers no practical and tangible solutions to get the company out of the parlours state it finds itself in, or has he just accepted it’s a sinking ship and any money spent would now be pointless?
    Either way they cannot continue suffering these kinds of huge losses and losing their customers, both paper buyers and advertisers, and expect to reverse the situation without serious changes being made throughout the company.

    Basic housekeeping I know but has anyone asked those responsible for commercial revenues what their plans are to drastically improve performance and achieve budget and targets?

    Are those underperforming commercial staff, managers and directors being replaced?

    Are each of the excessive number of managers being reviewed to find out who does what,which are surplus to requirements and whose costs could be saved?

    Quite frankly if those currently in charge don’t have the answers it’s time to get in people who do as the company cannot survive on this level of under performance and under delivery much longer.

  2. We hear plenty of excuses and reasons time and again from the chairman as to why things are so bad but never do we hear what the chairman and board are doing or will do about it.
    Failure in all aspects of the business sees yet another year of losses and drops against already eroded revenue bases with the company going round in circles and going backwards yet with the same people at the helm from board level right down to editors and commercial chiefs,but surprise surprise ,no one is held responsible and no one is accepting blame or responsibility for these latest crippling performance figures, or is under performance seen as the norm and is acceptable at Archant these days?
    These latest shocking losses are very much the result of having easy to manage,subservient underlings and a yes man culture so the results are very much of the company’s own doing , its very easy to point the finger elsewhere and blame others but the buck stops in house with the same old names in the same positions appearing clueless as to what to do next so it’s clearly time for a serious shake up with proper, experienced and business minded people replacing the ones who’ve allowed this collapse to happen on their watch before any more losses occur and the point of no return is reached ….if that point has not already been passed.

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