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Archant sees profits fall

Regional publisher Archant has seen its overall revenue and profits fall as the advertising slump continues.

In its interim financial report to shareholders, Archant said that revenue was down 2.8 per cent from £99.2m last year to £96.4m, operating profit before exceptional items was down 15.4 per cent from £17m to £14.4m, and pre-tax profits were down 19.4 per cent from £12.7m to £10.2m.

Revenue for its newspapers and printing business was £72.4m, a fall of £5.8m on last year.

The group publishes the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times, Norwich Evening News and Ipswich Evening Star as well as more than 85 weekly titles.

The interim results also show advertising sales were down 7.7 per cent, with all categories except property showing declines.

Its magazine business is continuing to show growth, with turnover up 14.4 per cent to £24.1m and operating profit was up 72.1 per cent to £2.3m.

Archant chairman Richard Jewson said he thought that “much of the present downturn” was cyclical rather than structural.

He added: “We do not expect any immediate improvement in advertising revenues although there is cautious optimism amongst some commentators that the economy will improve towards the end of 2006.”

He added that a development director with specific responsibility for digital activity had been appointed to implement an upgrade to classified websites and the business model behind them.

And he said: “We remain confident that the strength of our titles, the skills and commitment of our staff, and the actions that we are taking will enable us to re-establish the group’s growth as conditions improve.”