finance

Reach confirms discussions over with Scotsman owner as trading improves



Media group Reach today confirmed it is no longer in the running to buy titles owned by rival JPI Media as it reported improving revenue trends.

In a trading update for the last five months, the group behind the Daily Record, Sunday Mail and  Insider.co.uk  said trading has been steady and remains in line with expectations.

On a like-for-like basis, revenue fell by 4.4%, an improvement on the 6.6% like-for-like decline in the same period in 2018.

Digital revenues grew by 14%, up from 9.3% previously, but print revenues fell by 7.3%, down from a fall of 8.2%.

Reach said good progress has been made with a number of digital initiatives over the second half of the year.

“We continue to be encouraged by strong audience growth across our portfolio of national and regional sites. This has provided us with the confidence to further extend our network of digital regional brands into new territories, with at least seven new ‘Live’ launches planned for 2020 and approximately 50 journalists to be recruited,” it said.

Strong cash generation has continued and its balance sheet remains robust.

“In light of this favourable ongoing performance, we now expect to show a net positive cash balance at the year end.”

Although the company confirmed it is no longer in active discussions about acquiring titles owned by JPI Media which is behind The Scotsman  it said merger and acquisition opportunities which would accelerate its strategy will continue to be reviewed on a regular and disciplined basis.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “Since joining the business in August, I’ve been impressed by the strength of Reach’s national and regional brands, the quality of our content and the wide geographic distribution of our products through both print and digital channels. I’ve also been encouraged by the wealth of talented and inspirational staff working in the business.

“We have made good financial and operational progress during the period, including an improved like-for-like revenue trend and a further reduction in net debt. The Reach brands continue to have real relevance at both a national and local level, as is demonstrated by our considerable audience growth. We are working to complement our audience reach with a significant depth of customer insight and data that will allow us to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term.”



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