The Financial Times Ltd has reported a pre-tax loss of £34.5m for 2020, down from a £4.6m loss before tax the year before.
Accounts for the year to the end of December, filed on Companies House, show the impact of three successive pandemic lockdowns on the UK’s leading business news title.
The FT described 2020 as a “challenging environment in which to operate as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and consequently both revenue and operating profit have been adversely impacted in the year”.
The company made an operating loss of £20.9m, down from a £672,000 operating profit in 2019. Revenues were down 7% to £319.8m
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The accounts do not show consolidated earnings for the FT’s global business. The FT is wholly owned by private Japanese firm Nikkei.
An FT spokesperson said: “The FT Ltd accounts give only a partial view of FT Group performance because they cover our main UK trading entity only.
“The FT takes most of its costs in the UK but generates a large proportion of its revenue overseas. In fact, the Group generated a small operating profit in 2020 despite the impact of Covid-19.
“We also continued to invest through the pandemic, which is one of the reasons we expect a very strong financial performance in 2021.”
Digital events income, a “very robust advertising performance” and branded content sales up 31% year on year helped counter reduced print circulation sales, but was not enough to offset the impact of the pandemic on the top line despite cost savings, the FT said.
The FT reached more than 1.1m paying readers across print and digital in 2020, with digital subscriptions up 5% to 960,000 and revenues from digital subs up 16% year on year.
During the pandemic the FT, which returned to its Bracken House (pictured) home in London in Spring 2019, moved to “remote working at scale” in response to the Covid-19 health crisis from 16 March 2020.
From April last year it cut pay for FT leadership, suspended the annual bonus scheme and reduced pension contributions.
In May a pay cut was imposed on all staff earning over a certain salary threshold, matching a cut in working hours. These deductions were repaid to “relevant employees”, the FT said.
Other staff were put on furlough, although the FT has since repaid any money it took from the Government’s furlough scheme.