Moving resources away from struggling sectors to bolster growth areas such as new media is the key to Emap’s development, the group said this morning.
Announcing a mixed set of end-of-year results, covering the 12 months up to 31 March, the magazines and radio giant said strong performances in B2B magazines and digital had been offset by flagging consumer magazine and radio revenues.
Overall group revenue stood at £884m for the year ending 31 March, up 4 per cent year on year. Pre-tax profits were, however, down 13 per cent.
Emap’s interim executive chairman Alun Cathcart said the last 12 months had been “a period of transition” for the magazine and radio group, “against a background of challenging trading conditions”.
“Our strategy is to migrate resources onto faster growth platforms and to develop new business models based on content, community and commerce,” Cathcart said. “We will vigorously pursue this strategy, which will mean increasing our digital activities.”
Among the areas that the group has “migrated resources” from this year are the US edition of FHM and its French magazines division, both of which have been disposed of.
Meanwhile, Emap spent £25m last year investing in digital initiatives, and revenue from digital activities was up 32 per cent to £120m.
The group said it was looking at new opportunities to develop digital businesses out of its existing brands, one example being the launch of a radio spin-off of Closer magazine, which is part of Channel 4’s bid for the new digital radio multiplex.
Emap’s B2B division continued to be the jewel in its crown, showing strong growth across the board. The Worth Global Style Network, which it acquired in 2005, has seen revenues up by a third.
The group said its Middle East division and women’s weekly division, in particular Grazia, had also performed strongly.
Consumer magazines, however, had been worst hit by a downturn in advertising, Emap said. Operating profits in this area were down 11 per cent year on year, revenue from consumer magazine circulation was down 4 per cent, and overall consumer magazine revenue was down 5 per cent to £367m.
New launches this year, including First and an Australian version of lads’ mag Zoo, contributed an extra £12m to the group’s revenue.
Emap said that althrough First magazine had “got off to a slower start than anticipated”, with a debut ABC of 100,439, the group “remained committed” to the title, “as it serves an attractive demographic”.
Cost-cutting initiatives, which have particuarly affected Emap’s consumer magazines and radio stations, are expected to have saved at least £20m a year from 2009.
Today’s results come less than a week after Emap’s group chief executive Tom Moloney resigned after 26 years with the company.