Mirror and Express owner slumps to £113m loss

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The owner of the Mirror and Express newspapers has slumped to a £113m half-year loss after slashing the value of its regional publishing operations.

Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, said the £150m charge reflected a “more challenging outlook” for its regional businesses.

They include the Manchester Evening News, Daily Record and Liverpool Echo.

The results are the first since Reach completed its takeover of the Express and Star titles from Richard Desmond.

The £113.5m pre-tax loss for the 26 weeks to 1 July, compares with a profit of £38.2m for the same period last year.

Adjusted pre-tax profit for the UK’s biggest news publisher rose £3.4m to £64.7m.

Group revenue rose by 10.6% to £353.8m reflecting the acquisition of the Express and Star, but fell by 7.2% on a like-for-like basis. The fall partly reflected the company handing back two regional Metro titles to Daily Mail owner DMGT in the period.

Sales of Reach’s national newspapers plunged in the first half, with circulation for the Daily Mirror down 13.9%, a 12.1% fall for the Daily Star and a 9.3% slide for the Daily Express. The overall UK national tabloid newspaper market declined by 9.3% in the period.

The Sunday Mirror was down 14.8%, the Sunday People fell 16.4%, with 8.3% and 9.2% declines for the Sunday Express and Star titles respectively.

Simon Fox, chief executive, said Reach had delivered a positive performance in a “difficult trading environment”.

He was “reasonably optimistic” about the prospects of the regional titles despite the writedown and said they had a long-term future digitally.

Reach had no plans to close print editions “at the moment” and is opening digital titles in areas such as Leeds and Edinburgh where it had no print titles, Mr Fox added.

The company was on track to deliver the savings of £20m it expected from integrating the Express and Star titles, but needed growth in digital revenues to offset the continued decline from its print products, he said.

Shares in Reach fell 2.4% in morning trading to 71p, valuing the company at £215m.

In April Johnston Press, publisher of newspapers including the i, the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, posted a pre-tax loss of £95m for last year. That was down from a £301m loss in 2016 after slashing the value of its titles.


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