Independent News & Media has reported an operating profit, before exceptional items, of €15.2m for the first six months of the year. Revenues, however, were down by 8.2% to €164.1m.
Exceptional costs amounted to €18.5m in the first half of the year as the group continued its quest to slash costs by €26m. Some €6.1m of the exceptional items were incurred in Ireland, mainly relating to redundancies while the group also incurred an €8.2m cost relating to its discontinued operations in South Africa. After exceptional items are taken into account, the group made a pre-tax loss of €9.6m. This compares with a pre-tax loss of €161.2m in the same period in 2012.
The interim results show that advertising and digital revenues amounted to €41.3m, a drop of 12.7% on the corresponding period last year. Digital revenues, however, were up by 8.2%. Circulation revenues also fell by 4.4% to €54.3m while other revenues from contract printing, education and distribution services were down by 8.2% to €68.5m.
Commenting on these results, Vincent Crowley, Group Chief Executive Officer, said:
“In the first half we have made substantial progress in re-shaping and re-positioning INM. We have agreed a restructuring of our debt, disposed of our South African business for R2 billion and agreed a pension restructuring of the significant ROI defined benefit pension schemes with the relevant Trustees, involving Section 50 submissions to the Irish Pensions Board. We have delivered substantial year-on-year cost savings and increased profitability, despite revenue reductions. Our focus for the second half, and into 2014, is to continue to identify new revenue opportunities and drive efficiencies across our business. A key focus will be the development of our digital activities and related digital revenues. Yesterday’s announcement of the appointment of Fiona O’Carroll as Managing Director, Digital and the recent appointment of Stephen Rae as Editor in Chief, positions the Group to benefit from the significant emerging opportunities in the digital arena and to better leverage our unique content across all platforms.
Our unrivalled audience reach, both in print and online, is the foundation of our publishing performance and growing digital strategy. We have a strong portfolio of market-leading national and regional titles which are profitable and supported by a growing digital revenue stream. Whilst we have experienced some recent reductions in the rate of advertising decline, forecasting in current trading conditions is difficult and visibility remains short. We have strong operating leverage and are well positioned to convert any improvement in trading conditions into an improved financial performance.”