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June 29, 2018updated 02 Jul 2018 8:47am

Evening Standard announces loss of £10m but digital-only Independent almost doubles profits, new figures show

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Evening Standard has reported a £9.98m loss for the year ending September 2017.

The title was in profit to the tune of £2.2m one year earlier – down slightly from £3.3m in 2015 – with the latest announcement showing a £12m lurch into the red.

Parent company ESI Media said today the newspaper is in an investment phase to develop its “brand, editorial product and advertising proposition”.

It said the Standard had seen strong editorial innovation under George Osborne since he began as editor in May last year.

Osborne led the newspaper’s first redesign in a decade in March, which included dropping “London” from the masthead and introducing emojis to the weather forecast.

ESI Media, which also owns the Independent, said the Standard had seen investment in its digital platform and senior hires in the editorial, commercial and technical teams.

The Standard’s struggle was also blamed on weak advertising trading conditions facing the entire print media industry which have had a “significant effect” on the newspaper’s profitability.

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Other challenges included the reallocation of overheads within ESI Media following the sale of the i newspaper and the closure of the Independent’s print edition in 2016.

An industry-wide increase in paper costs due to the weakness of the pound, and a stagnant London property market which affects the Homes and Property supplement, have also hampered revenues.

Manish Malhotra, group managing director at ESI Media, said: “We’re investing significantly in the Evening Standard, developing what is already the leading media product for one of the world’s great cities into a future-facing newsbrand that delivers editorially and commercially across print, digital and live platforms.

“Although the title has been subject to some broader issues that have impacted on all newsbrands, the brand is now enjoying strong digital growth and the emergence of a successful events business to complement the print title reinvigorated under George’s editorship.”

The figures also show that during the same period, in its first full year as a digital-only title, the Independent increased its turnover by more than 55 per cent and nearly doubled its profits to £3.26m, an increase of 94 per cent.

The Independent’s growth in profits came despite continuing significant investment in editorial, commercial and technical capabilities, especially in the US, ESI Media said.

“This success is a validation of the difficult decision taken in early 2016 to close the print edition and demonstrates the viability of its online-only model.”

The Independent’s growth was attributed to a combination of improved programmatic advertising efficiencies and capabilities, an increased return from third party partnerships, growth in e-commerce revenues on the Indy Best platform and successful revenue diversification through subscription, licensing and syndication models.

Malhotra said: “The Independent is demonstrating strong growth in profits and turnover following its move to a digital-only business.

“This is enabling us to continually invest in the brand, particularly in our US presence, to better serve our large, engaged and valuable global audience.”

Picture: Press Gazette

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