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Profits fall at Empire and Grazia magazine publisher Bauer amid print decline

Pre-tax profits at Empire and Grazia publisher Bauer Media fell by two-thirds last year as print magazines continue to decline.

Bauer, which also publishes Heat, Mojo and Take a Break magazines, made a pre-tax profit of £3.7m for the year ending 31 December 2018, down 65 per cent from £10.7m the year before.

The company made an operating loss of £2.9m in 2018, falling from a £9.5m profit the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House for Bauer Consumer Media.

Bauer said that when impaired assets and investments were excluded, its underlying profitability was £19.6m last year, down from £27.5m in 2017.

Turnover for the magazine publisher fell by more than £8m to £120.3m.

In its strategic report alongside the accounts, Bauer said it has seen “continued structural decline in its magazine print business, with newsstand and subscription sales falling in aggregate during the year”, which it said was in line with the market.

Advertising revenues were down from £43.4m to £38m, while newsstand and subscription revenues fell from £75m to £72m.

But, Bauer said it had outperformed its nearest competitors in terms of newsstand and advertising volume declines and that it remained the UK’s biggest publisher by circulation.

In 2018 Bauer closed women’s lifestyle website The Debrief to focus on Grazia online, but also launched three new print magazines: TV Years from the team behind TV Choice, TV title Pilot (from the team behind Empire), and Simply You which is aimed at women over 40. 

Staff costs were down by about £1m, with editorial staff numbers having been cut from 368 to 354.

In January this year, after the period covered by these accounts, Bauer Consumer Media moved 92 per cent of its UK magazine business to sister company H Bauer Publishing, keeping only its B2B titles.

It said its main risks going forward relate to the “ongoing structural change in the B2B market, fluctuations in advertising spend, the maintenance of key relationships through the UK magazine supply chain, changing paper prices and changes in search algorithms adversely affecting site traffic”.

Bauer’s radio stations, including Absolute Radio and Magic, come under a separate company.

Read Bauer Consumer Media’s full 2018 accounts.

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