Independent News & Media (INM) made a pre-tax profit of €28.5m on a turnover of €293m in 2017, according to results for the company which were published today.
In what was a challenging year for the industry, the latest results show that profits were down 31.8p% while turnover declined by 9.4%. Despite this the group ended the year with a cash-pile of €91.5m and has signalled that it is still on the look-out for suitable bolt-on acquisitions while it may move to introduce a paywall over the next two years.
The decline in revenue was primarily driven by a fall in total advertising revenues of 10.6% while circulation revenues were down by 8.4p%. On a like-for-like basis, digital revenues were up 1% with growth primarily coming from its classified businesses, including CarsIreland.ie – a unit where revenues increased by over 45pc on a like-for-like basis.
The latest results also include a net exceptional charge of €12.1m in 2017 which covered a €1.5m severance payment made to its former CEO Robert Pitt who resigned last October. In addition, the company booked a write-down of €12.7m on the goodwill of the Belfast Telegraph.
According to Michael Doorly, CEO: “The full year results for 2017 clearly demonstrate the major challenges facing our Group and our industry. Despite these challenges, the Group recorded a PBT of €28.5 million and has a cash balance of €91.5 million. The Board and Management, with the assistance of consultants EY, are currently reviewing all the Group’s operations to develop a clear strategy for future growth. The establishment of an implementation team will be central to the successful delivery of this strategic plan and will involve investment in people and technology.”
The recently appointed chairman of INM, Murdoch MacLennan, adds: “I have just taken on the role of Chairman of the Group in the last few days but I am well aware of the challenges currently facing news and online publishers all over the world. While our Group experienced difficult trading conditions over the course of 2017, I am confident that a robust development strategy is being put in place, with the assistance of EY, which will open a pathway for us to identify a successful future for our business. INM’s focus over the coming year will be on implementing that new strategy, while at the same time protecting our existing core print and online business. Reassuringly, the Group has maintained its leadership position in the print publishing market and with independent.ie we have Ireland’s most trusted and most visited news website.”