Vice UK Ltd blames 'Brexit uncertainty' as pre-tax losses grow while revenues fall

Pre-tax losses at millennial media brand Vice UK have grown by 75 per cent in 2018, according to the company’s latest full-year financial figures.

Vice UK Ltd, which is the main UK arm of the US media company, reported that losses before tax had grown to £3.9m over the year to the end of December 2018, up from £2.2m the year before.

The company runs the Vice news and culture website aimed at 18 to 35-year-olds as well as a separate network of third-party publishers, through which it sells digital ads and distributes content, and ad agency Virtue.

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New accounts filed with Companies House showed Vice UK Ltd’s turnover fell by a third to £17.3m, down from £25.7m in 2017.

Matthew Elek, Vice’s then-chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa and now its global senior advisor, said this was mainly due to revenue declines in the digital (down from £6.2m to £4.1m) and production (down from £15.2m to £4m) divisions.

Elek added that “one of the biggest drivers” of these drops was a fall in business within the European Union from £10.5m in 2017 to £4.7m in 2018 due to the “uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations”.

Operating loss before depreciation, amortisation and stock based compensation at the company was £1.8m in 2018 compared to a £2.5m profit the year before.

Elek said operating profit had been affected by a reduction in both the digital and Virtue parts of the business, as well as a £1.4m impairment charge and a £1.1m exchange gain in 2017 that was not repeated the following year.

Vice also owns bi-monthly lifestyle magazine I-D, film production company Pulse and pubs and restaurant group Old Blue Last in the UK, which all report separately on Companies House.

Levelprint Ltd, which owns I-D, reported a pre-tax loss of £3.2m, compared to £762,867 in 2017.

Vice UK TV Ltd, which runs the channel Viceland, reported a pre-tax loss of £1.9m ion 2018, compared to £1.6m the year before.

Production arm Vice UK Studios Ltd grew from a pre-tax loss of £130,885 in 2017 to a profit of £431,657.

Vice UK Ltd and the company’s UK various subsidiaries have “received confirmation” they will continue to receive financial support from US parent undertaking Vice Group Holding Inc for at least another 12 months.

Staff numbers at Vice UK Ltd fell from 193 to 186 in 2018, although staff costs rose from £8.2m to £10.5m.

In February 2019 Vice Media announced plans to cut ten per cent of its staff globally, including some in the UK.

It also stopped organising its departments by country, instead creating a new international business structure based around five areas: news, digital, TV, Studios production division, and Virtue.

Vice’s “women’s interests” platform Broadly was later absorbed into the main Vice website.

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