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. Having just seen this I can only think the chairman must be either out of touch with the reality of the situation, believing what his yes men tell him, or in complete denial if he believes Google and Facebook are the primary reasons for the company’s latest dreadful financial performance.
    With all platforms in disarray,losing money or returning greatly reduced profit levels, the real reason people are walking away from Archants papers and digital offerings are weak,irrelevant content and lack of grass roots hyper local and unique community news coverage, the main reasons people buy a local paper.
    Is it any wonder the EDP is down to selling a pathetic 29,000 copies and the NEN a shocking 7,500 copies considering the papers are made up of social media scrapings,old news,RGC items and generic space fillers? then expecting people to pay ever increasing cover charges to read it.
    The company has lost its audience, lost its markets and completely lost its way by treading water and losing money while new independent local publishers thrive all around them.
    Sorry Mr Bax but the only people to blame for yet another years failings are the ones on your own payroll, those in management positions who have been keeping their heads down, going with the flow and coasting along while the opposition grows stronger and takes markets and ad revenues once considered Archants divine territory.

    As for being ;
    “…. confident the team would deliver an “improved financial performance”
    I’m sure the shareholders will hold him accountable in the event they do not.

  2. I think Matt Kelly’s day job IS the new european as the rest of the portfolio appears to be falling all around him yet all his tweets are about himself or the NE, nothing about the core business,it’s papers or the state of its content.

    After Simon Bax had the displeasure of having to deliver this latest set of abysmal figures and following CEO Jeff Henry’s embarrassing boast 2 years ago that Archant would be the best regional media group by 2017, it’s surely time for wholesale changes from top to bottom. The shareholders have been very patient up until now but with no sign of recovery or progress in a declining market many will return votes of no confidence and demand change.

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