Archant, the regional media business, has announced a fall in operating profits for the year to December 31, 2009, against a background of challenging economic conditions and advertising revenues declining in all major categories.
In a preliminary statement to shareholders, chairman Richard Jewson (pictured) said turnover for the Group fell 19% to £142.0m (2008: £175.1m) and operating profit fell 32% to £15.1m (2008: £22.2m). However, operating profit doubled in the second half year, compared to the first half, reflecting the reduced cost base and some signs of improvement in trading conditions, and was up 11% against the second half of 2008.
There was significant activity throughout the year to conserve cash and seek efficiencies and total operating costs were reduced by £26.1m, a saving of 17.1%.
The Group completed the refinancing of its bank facilities in December 2009 and the Board is confident that this provides sufficient working capital and headroom to pursue its current strategies.
The rate of development of online and mobile technology activities accelerated in the year with the emphasis being on growing revenue streams from existing sites and the launch of new services. Key, non-financial, measures of online activity increased - average monthly unique visitors were up 36.6% and total annual page impressions were up by 19.2%, whilst online revenues increased 25.2%. Richard Jewson said: “2009 was a most challenging year with significant declines in all advertising categories. The new management team proved well up to the task, taking swift and decisive steps to reduce the cost base and launching a number of new business initiatives.”
Archant’s AGM takes place on Tuesday April 20 at the Assembly House in Norwich
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