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September 2, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:16am

FT puts massive profit growth down to digital subscription success

By Charlotte Tobitt

Pre-tax profits at the Financial Times Ltd grew by three-quarters in 2018 as digital subscription revenues continued to rise.

The company made £8.15m in profit before tax last year, up 75 per cent from £4.65m in 2017, according to full-year accounts filed with Companies House.

Revenues increased by more than £2m to £323.6m while operating profits grew from £4m to £7.3m.

The accounts filed in the UK do not show consolidated earnings for the FT’s global business, however.

The FT said earlier this year its full group revenues had hit £383m, up from £378.4m in 2017. Its total operating profit rose from £24.5m to £25m.

In the 2018 FT Ltd accounts, the company said its total circulation across print and online had grown eight per cent year-on-year from 910,000 in 2017 to 985,000 in 2018. It has since reached 1m paying readers.

The company also claimed reader engagement, a metric including frequency and length of visits to the FT website, had climbed by 15 per cent.

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Digital subscriptions grew by 11 per cent to 796,000 and digital paid readership now represents more than three-quarters of the FT’s total circulation, the FT Ltd accounts said.

Total digital content revenues were up 11 per cent year-on-year. Revenues from subscription and newsstand sales make up 55 per cent of total FT Ltd revenues.

The company also said advertising had defied industry trends after proving “resilient with only minor declines”. Ad revenues fell three per cent in digital and five per cent in print year-on-year, it said.

FT Ltd’s directors said in a statement: “Whilst we anticipate the external environment to remain challenging in 2019, we expect to benefit from continued growth in digital subscription revenues with print advertising remaining volatile and profits reflecting further actions to accelerate the shift from print to digital.”

The accounts also show FT chief executive John Ridding was paid £1.2m in 2017 after he paid back £510,000 following an outcry from FT staff.

The FT has said the money will be invested in a development fund to help reduce its gender pay gap.

Staff numbers at FT Ltd were largely unchanged from the year before, with 830 people in production and 1,297 across the whole company in 2018. Staff costs were at £104,374.

In total, the FT has 2,300 staff across the group.

The FT newspaper has today put its cover price up for the first time since 2015, from £2.70 to £2.90.

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