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July 24, 2018updated 25 Jul 2018 10:37am

Digital revenues overtake print for first time at Guardian group as it nearly halves losses on track to break even next year

By Charlotte Tobitt

Digital revenues have overtaken print for the first time at Guardian Media Group, owner of the Guardian and Observer titles, according to new full-year financial figures.

In its annual report for the year to April 2018, published today, GMG reported digital revenues up by 15 per cent to £108.6m – just over half of its £217m total revenues for the year, which were up 1 per cent year-on-year.

Print revenue was at £107.5m, down from £119.6m on the year before.

The group put digital revenue growth down, in part, to a “good competitive performance in digital advertising”.

At the end of June this year, the group said it had 570,000 regular paying supporters, members and subscribers across print and digital. In the past 12 months it has received 375,000 one-off donations.

The news publisher said this meant more people are paying for Guardian journalism than ever before, and that reader revenues make up more than half of its total revenues.

In 2017/18 GMG reported profit before tax (before exceptional items) of £53.2m, up from a loss of £25.1m the year before.

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The group has nearly halved its losses, making a loss of £23m on its earnings (EBITDA), up from a loss of £44.m last year.

Guardian News and Media, publisher of the Guardian and Observer titles, also made a loss of £18.6m in earnings (EBITDA) – an improvement on the year before when it made a loss of £38.9m.

In 2016 GMG launched a three-year plan to turn its finances around and reduce the Guardian’s cost base by 20 per cent.

The target is for GNM to break even on earnings (EBITDA) by April 2019, which it is still on track to do after its operating losses have been reduced by two thirds from £57m to £19m over the past two years.

GMG reduced its costs by £19.1m in 2017/18, driven by the transition to tabloid in January which was described as an “important milestone” in the “transformation plan”.

David Pemsel, chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, said: “In 2016 we set out a three-year strategy based on building deeper reader relationships and getting GNM’s finances to break even at operational level, in order to bring the organisation as a whole back to sustainability.

“The global media sector continues to face challenging conditions, but our strategy is on track to achieve our target and secure the future of the Guardian.

“We have grown our revenues for a second consecutive year and more people are paying for Guardian journalism than ever before.

“Thanks to the hard work of everyone at GMG, we are building a strong foundation in order to invest in some of the most trusted journalism in the world.”

Neil Berkett, chair of GMG, said the annual results “represent another year of significant progress for GMG as we work towards sustainability”.

He added: “The company has a well-established portfolio of investments, carries no debt and no material pensions deficits.

“GMG is on track to create a secure financial base from which to plan for the long-term future of the organisation – enabling us to continue to support world-class Guardian journalism in perpetuity.”

Read the full financial results.

Picture: Graeme Robertson

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