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November 18, 2021updated 07 Nov 2023 5:42am

Staff cuts warning at Daily Mail owner as energy and distribution costs bite

By Dominic Ponsford

The Daily Mail’s owner DMGT has warned of cost cuts to come as it released its financial results for the year to the end of September 2021 (its last as a public company).

Substantial increases in distribution, energy and newsprint costs for the print titles mean a “review of employee numbers” is expected.

The group also announced “substantial losses” at free newspaper Metro as its former commuter readers continue to largely work from home.

Overall revenue is slightly down at the Mail titles as they failed to achieve the bounceback in revenues compared to 2020 that some other news businesses have seen this year.

One senior cost cut came last night with the news that Geordie Greig was out after three years as editor of the Daily Mail. Mail on Sunday editor Ted Verity will now run both the Sunday and daily titles. Earlier this month Paul Dacre left his role as editor in chief (which came complete with secretary and chauffeur).

DMGT is now a slimmed-down operation having realised £1.5bn from selling insurance risk business RMS and EdTech business Hobsons.

It now comprises:

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  • Consumer media titles Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro, New Scientist, i and Mail Online
  • Its property information
  • And its B2B exhibitions and events arm.

Overall revenue for businesses in the new DMGT totalled £885m (down 1% on an underlying basis) with pre-tax profit up 7% to £50m. Given the huge impact of coronavirus on the UK economy in 2020,  many media businesses are seeing a stronger bounceback in 2021.

Principle shareholder Lord Rothermere finalised a complex £3bn deal to take DMGT private on 3 November and investors have until 16 December to approve or reject it.

Rothermere takes ownership of a company that has £1,745m of cash in the bank, but which still makes most of its money from print newspapers which are in long-term decline.

Here’s a breakdown of DMGT’s revenue by business:

Property Information (Landmark in the UK and Trepp in the US):

  • Revenue: £227m (up 25% underlying)
  • Profit £44m (up 57% underlying)

B2B events and exhibitions – dmg events:

  • Revenue: £34m (down 56%)
  • Operating profit: £0 (down 150%)

Consumer media:

  • Revenue: £624m (down 2%)
  • Operating profit: £60m (up 2%)

Looking at DMGT’s consumer media titles, only Mail Online and i managed to grow revenue compared to Covid-hit 2020.

The breakdown is as follows (with 2020 revenue figures in brackets where available):

  • Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday: £348m (£356m)
  • Mail Online: £164m (£144m)
  • DailyMailTV: £6m (£8m)
  • Metro: £26m (£47m)
  • i: £32m (£27m)
  • New Scientist: £13m.

Overall ad revenue was up 1% to £284m, with Mail Online seeing strong growth of 16% and print advertising down 15% (mainly due to Metro).

Overall digital comprised 32% of news brand revenue at DMGT in the year to the end of September 2021, compared with 28% in the prior year.

Mail digital edition subscribers grew to 90,000 (up 51% year on year) and Mail+, the website created by the Daily Mail editorial team, averaged 370,000 unique users per month.

Time spent on Mail Online decreased 7% year-on-year to an average of 135m minutes per day with average unique browsers down 15% to 14.7m, due to less traffic from search.

Direct audience (readers going straight to the site) drove 81% of time spent with Mail Online, the publisher said.

Metro has seen a disastrous slide in revenue due to the pandemic from £79m in 2019 to £26m last year, and was said to have made a substantial loss in the year.

DMGT said: “The business has been severely affected by lower commuter volumes, and the weak print advertising market.”

Chief executive Paul Zwillenberg said: “Looking ahead, DMGT will continue to invest, prioritising organic opportunities and taking advantage of technological change, whilst maintaining a long-term perspective.”

DMGT results 2021 in full

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