Trinity Mirror is looking to find a further £5m in annual cost savings after reporting a £55m decline in revenue to £320m for the first six months of the year, according to adjusted financial results.
The group has said it is targeting £20m of “structural cost savings” for the year, up from its original target of £15m, after coming in “ahead of target” at £10m in savings for the 26 weeks to 2 July.
Print advertising revenue across the group fell 27 per cent to £93.1m and circulation revenue fell 9.9 per cent to £145.7m.
Digital income grew 4.3 per cent to £41.4m.
Adjusted operating profit for the group was down £6.5m year-on-year to £62.6m for the six-month period.
Simon Fox, Trinity Mirror’s chief executive, said: “Whilst the trading environment for print in the first half was volatile, we remain on course to meet expectations for the year.
“I continue to anticipate that the second half will show improving revenue momentum as we benefit from initiatives implemented during the first half of the year.”
Trinity Mirror said its pension deficit had fallen by £59.2m to £406.8m, including £336.1m of deferred tax. The group paid £20.6m into defined benefit pension schemes in the first half of this year.
The group also reduced its net debt by £8.1m to £22.4m.
Trinity Mirror chairman David Grigson has said he will step down from the board of directors next year after six years in post, with Helen Stevenson set to take over.
The report said: “We continue to make progress with our strategy of growing digital display and transactional revenue whilst at the same time tightly managing our cost base to support profits and cash flow.
“Although the trading environment remains challenging, at this stage, the board expects full year adjusted results to be in line with expectations.”
Triniy Mirror is the UK’s biggest regional publisher, with more than 220 titles. It also owns the Daily and Sunday Mirror and Sunday People national titles.
The National Union of Journalists as said the results show that Trinity Mirror can offer to improve on a 1 per cent pay rise offered to staff this year.
Chris Morley, Trinity Mirror NUJ group coordinator, said: “It is disappointing that while Trinity Mirror has as good as wiped out its debt, it still clings to the same relentless cuts agenda that has failed to come good in the last ten years.
“It is worrying that as it boosts its interim dividend pay-out for shareholders to 7.1 per cent, the company trumpets that it has now expects to achieve £20 million cost cuts this year – a full £5 million more than was planned.
“With that comes a £15 million restructuring charge, money that could be better spent addressing its stated strategic vision ‘that quality content will remain at the heart of our business’.
“The company has professed to have identified ‘opportunities for greater investment in content creation’, but we say it needs to be substantial and it needs to be now.
“Investment for quality content cannot be done in isolation, it also needs to be targeted at in its staff who are delivering huge productivity gains for little financial thanks.
“While the payout to shareholders is all well and good, our members in the regional titles have been offered a ‘pay cut’, a sub-inflation deal for this year of 1 per cent. Trinity Mirror can clearly afford to do better given it spent £4.6 million buying back its own shares and judging by other figures in these results.”
Picture: Trinity Mirror