National World has reported pre-tax profit of £3.5m on turnover of £42.1m for the first half of 2021, its first financial results since acquiring Scotsman publisher JPI Media.
The results statement reveals that while digital revenue is growing strongly, the vast majority of National World’s revenue comes from the declining print side of the business.
It also reveals that the company receives £1.2m a year from Google and Facebook, and has received some £4m from the UK government to pay furloughed staff during the pandemic.
The group was formed in 2019 by David Montgomery, formerly chief executive of regional publisher Local World which he sold to Mirror publisher Reach for £220m in 2015.
[Read more: David Montgomery interview]
The figures, published Thursday, report the first revenues generated by National World, which was set up as an investment vehicle until it bought JPI Media for £10.2m in December 2020.
In its report, National World said that since the acquisition of JPI Media “significant progress has been made on the strategy to localise, energise, digitise and monetise relevant and unique content to create a modern operating model for news publishing across multiple brands and platforms”.
The group has launched nine “World” sites: the UK-wide nationalworld.com, which is supported by eight regional websites, including Londonworld.com. It claims to provide local coverage to 80% of the UK market together with JPI Media’s more than 150 local newsbrands.
Half-year results highlights
- Digital publishing revenue up 21% year on year, print down 9%
- £2m annual investment in the nine “World” websites “expanding our footprint into all major metropolitan centres in the UK”
- On track to cut £5m from annual costs
- Print publishing revenue still accounts for vast majority of turnover: £35.6m (£16.5m advertising, £17.9m circulation, £1.2m other)
- Digital publishing was worth £5.8m in the first half, with £700,000 from subscriptions
- Group receiving £1.2m per year from Google News Showcase and Facebook News
- In full-year 2020 JPI Media received £3.5m from the government in furlough cash. National World received a further £500,000 in the half-year.
Montgomery pleased with progress
Montgomery, who serves as chairman, said: “I am pleased with the progress made since the acquisition of JPI Group. I pay tribute to the staff who have energetically deployed their skills and talent to transform the business.
“Our product launches, including nationalworld.com and eight World sites in key markets, move the company from its traditional geographical base to a UK wide footprint.
“The scene is set for further organic growth in audience based on original content not available elsewhere and further acquisitions.
“These will support first and foremost the increase in our digital capabilities and assist in the creation of a sustainable growth publishing model. We will also consider heritage assets at an appropriate valuation.”