Independent News and Media calls UK operation 'challenging'

Independent News & Media has said “significant headcount reductions” and a “highly successful restructuring” helped its UK division boost its profits last year.

But the company, which includes the Belfast Telegraph in its UK results, said 2007 had been a “challenging period” for its two UK nationals – the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

In its annual report, published this week, INM said revenue in the UK rose 18 per cent year-on-year from £179m to £212m. Operating profit in the same period rose 8.4 per cent, up from £11.3m to £12.3m.

“Following a period of dramatic change and innovation in the quality national newspaper market, 2007 marked a more challenging period,” the publisher said.

“Operating profit increased, underpinned by the highly successful restructuring initiatives in London and Belfast.”

INM said the restructuring, which began in 2006 and finished last year, had resulted in “significant headcount and cost reductions”.

The Belfast Telegraph saw advertising revenues grow 6.5 per cent in 2007, a result which the company claimed was “arguably the best performance of any UK regional newspaper”.

The title, which launched a morning tabloid edition in 2006, was named daily newspaper of the year at last year’s Regional Press Awards.

INM said its chief executive, Sir Tony O’Reilly, received £1.74m in 2007 – up from £1.44m in the previous year.

The company’s UK chief executive, Ivan Fallon, a former deputy editor of the Sunday Times, earned £1.31m in 2007, up 15 per cent from £1.14m in the previous year.

The INM report reveals that the group’s UK operation was its least profitable. The group made 16 per cent of its revenue in the UK last year, but only six per cent of its profits.

Its businesses in Ireland, where the company is based, made up 24 per cent of revenues but 40 per cent of profits.

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