Publisher Archant has announced increased profits for the year thanks mainly to the performance of advertising sales in the regional press.
And there are initiatives in hand to boost income and improve efficiency.
Operating profit for 2002 reached £27.7m, up 5.8 per cent on last year, on a turnover up 1.6 per cent at £146.2m.
Chief executive John Fry said: “During 2002, the group performed well in an uncertain environment for media businesses.
“Advertising in the regional press has held up somewhat better than that for national publishers, with the retail and property sectors being relatively buoyant.”
He said revenue fell by one per cent after a difficult first half-year. But a recovery in the second half produced 3.7 per cent revenue growth against the same period last year.
The trend had continued into 2003 with a strong start to the year which he felt was unaffected by the conflict in Iraq.
He said a variety of factors was driving the growth – among them a high degree of “innovation and enterprise”.
He said: “Archant Life launched and acquired seven new magazines during the year. We now publish 16 county magazines from Lancashire to Kent with the developed titles delivering excellent growth and high margins. As the portfolio matures we expect the growth trend to continue.”
Chairman Richard Jewson said: “The management team has a wide range of initiatives in hand, both for revenue generation and improvements in efficiency, that should continue to strengthen the group.
“While the company continues to perform well, we are concerned the economy may deteriorate.
“With our considerable financial strength and an experienced and capable management team we believe we are well positioned to weather any downturn and take advantage of opportunities which may arise.”
Archant publishes four daily regional newspapers and more than 50 weekly titles with a combined circulation of 2.6m copies a week. Its daily titles are the East Anglian Daily Times, Eastern Daily Press, Evening News (Norwich) and the Evening Star (Ipswich). Among the weeklies are the Royston Crow, Weston & Somerset Mercury and the Ayrshire Leader Series.
It also publishes around 60 magazines and 40 websites. It is a private company and employs more than 2,300 people across England and Scotland, with head office in Norwich.
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