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Mirror publisher Reach suffers £113m loss as regional titles take a hit

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The Mirror and Express publisher has suffered a half-year loss after a slowdown in local advertising forced it to cut the value of its regional titles.

Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, was hit by a £150m impairment charge, due to a fall in value of its local newspaper assets.

The company reported a £113.5m statutory pre-tax loss in the first half of the year, compared with profits of £47.3m a year earlier.

Shares were down 2.7% in early trading.

The company said it had faced a “more challenging than expected” outlook within regional newspapers during the period.

The Express & Star takeover however boosted group revenues, which grew from £320m to £353.8m in the six months.

Reporting its first half-yearly results since the group bought the Express & Star newspapers from Northern & Shell Media in February, the company warned there was now “greater uncertainty” for its regional titles over the medium term.

But the company insisted that the integration of the papers into the wider group was under way, “in order to accelerate the benefits that our combined scale will deliver.”

Reach said it took a further hit after putting aside another £7.5m to deal with higher than expected civil claims over the phone hacking scandal.

The money includes the costs of having to cover claimants’ legal expenses, and brings the total amount put aside for settlements to £70.5m.

Reach chief executive Simon Fox said: “We have delivered a positive financial performance in what remains a difficult trading environment for the industry, in particular the regional businesses.

“The benefit of improved performance from national print advertising coupled with further cost mitigation will support profits over the year despite a further increase in newsprint prices for the second half.”

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