Spectator reports revenue up this year as subscriptions cancel out Covid-19 advertising hit

The Spectator has revealed that turnover this year is up 8% so far despite the impact of Covid-19 as it published its full-year accounts for 2019.

The magazine, owned by the Barclay brothers and led by chairman Andrew Neil and editor Fraser Nelson, reported a 20% drop in newsstand sales and 40% fall in advertising sales this year.

But it said a rise in subscriptions of 30% had compensated for this loss of turnover, helping to maintain the company’s profitability.

The Spectator (1828) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Barclays’ Press Holdings parent company, which also owns the Telegraph group, has reported its 2019 full-year figures on the Companies House website.

These reveal a growth in turnover of 7% to £14.2m. Pre-tax profit fell 50% year on year to £666,000, which the company put down to “significant” investments in its digital, marketing and editorial departments and print expansion into the US in 2019.

Company director Rigel Mowatt wrote: “In 2020 and beyond the company plans to continue to grow turnover. It will continue development of its digital products in order to increase circulation revenues from subscription sales.

“Spectator events will also continue to grow in both sponsorship and ticket sales revenues,” although it was noted live events may not be able to take place “until 2021” due to Covid-19.

The Spectator and Telegraph both announced in June they were returning furlough money to the government after subscriptions helped them perform better financially during lockdown than they had feared.

The company, which also publishes art magazine Apollo, had £453,000 in cash at the end of 2019 and £555,000 at the start.

It kept staff numbers steady, with an average of 65 in total and 24 in editorial in 2019 compared to 61 and 23 respectively the year before. Staff costs grew from £3.2m to £3.6m.

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