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Profits slip at Archant

Archant has reported a decline in its operating profit for 2006, but with what it calls a “robust performance in challenging conditions for the media industry”.

Its preliminary results for 2006 show a fall of 6.8 per cent in operating profit to £29.5m, down from £31.6m in 2005.

The company publishes the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Evening Star, Norwich Evening News and almost 100 weekly titles including The Royston Crow, Welwyn & Hatfield Times, Islington Gazette and Lowestoft Journal.

In a statement to shareholders, Archant chairman Richard Jewson said: “The company had produced a robust performance in challenging conditions.

“Whilst advertising revenues were still down on 2005, performance in the second half improved as the rate of decline in advertising revenue slowed.”

He added: “Structural change in the regional press industry continues.

“Media fragmentation is also continuing within the industry, and we have sought to benefit from this by building on the audiences loyal to our titles by increasing our online presence.

“The results of this continuing programme of investment are encouraging – we are growing revenue and unique visitors to our sites have risen by 66 per cent over the year, with nearly 1.2m unique visitors in January 2007.”

The group also publishes a number of magazines and said profits from those and its contract publishing business had risen by 23.7 per cent to £6.1m.

The chairman said the group expected conditions to remain challenging in 2007, with advertising demand likely to remain flat and costs, including salaries and newsprint, continuing to rise.

He said: “We remain confident in the strength of our titles and the skills and commitment of our staff and we are determined to restore the group’s record of growth as conditions improve.” Do you have a story about the regional press?
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