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June 26, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:58am

Evening Standard reports loss of £11m for second year in a row

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Evening Standard has reported a loss of £11m for the second year in a row.

The newspaper company made a pre-tax loss of £11.6m in the year ending September 2018, staying almost steady from £11.8m in 2017.

Turnover was up 2 per cent from £63.9m to £65.4m in 2018 “despite the tightening markets for traditional print display and classified advertising”, the newspaper’s full-year accounts on Companies House showed today.

Operating losses dropped by 5 per cent to £9.5m from £10m last year.

Standard editor George Osborne, who began in the top job in May 2017, told staff last month that print and online teams would be merged to avoid “unnecessary duplication” and return to profitability.

Staff were told to expect redundancies and the first casualties of the cost-cutting were later revealed as theatre critics Henry Hitchings and Fiona Mountford.

Manish Malhotra, group managing director at parent company ESI Media, said today: “The iconic Evening Standard brand continues to evolve and the integration of our print and digital editorial teams is a key step in this process.

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“We are confident that these changes, combined with recent investment into the title, will allow us to build towards a profitable and sustainable future, despite a backdrop of wider factors impacting the industry.”

Malhotra wrote in the company accounts that the Standard has had to “absorb the impact of rising newsprint prices throughout the year, which along with the investment in digital journalism led to a modest increase in the total cost base”.

He claimed that the Evening Standard and Homes and Property websites had seen a 22 per cent year-on-year increase in page views, including a 21 per cent rise in UK visitors and 48 per cent for those overseas.

This drove year-on-year digital revenue growth of 29 per cent.

The weekly Homes and Property supplement “continued to deliver a significant profit… despite the challenging London property market,” he added. ES Magazine, published alongside the free newspaper on Thursdays and Fridays, also recorded an improved profit.

The latest ABC figures showed the Standard had a distribution of 857,070 in May, down 4 per cent from 895,329 in the same month last year.

The overall fortunes of Lebedev Holdings, which owns the media assets of Standard and Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev, were down in 2018, with a pre-tax loss of £18.6m compared to £18.3m in 2017.

The holdings company also reported an operating loss of £13.2m, up from £12.9m, although revenue stayed steady at £68.5m.

Its overall newspaper publishing revenues were up from £64.3m in 2017 to £65.4m, while broadcasting revenues from the London Live TV channel fell by a quarter from £4.2m to £3.1m.

The digital-only Independent’s 2018 accounts have not yet been published.

Picture: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

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