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Increase in profit for newspaper publisher

Regional newspaper publisher Archant has announced increased profits today.

The Norwich-based company, whose titles include the Ipswich Evening Star and Eastern Daily Press, is showing a 3.4 per cent rise in its operating profits to £30.5m for 2007.

The announcement comes in the middle of a 30-day staff consultation at Archant’s Ipswich titles, the East Anglian Daily Times and Evening Star.

The company is planning to merge its production process and is believed to be seeking more than 20 voluntary redundancies among production and sub-editing staff.

Concerned union members said the company had also detailed plans to recruit non-journalists to sub-edit stories on a lower salary than existing sub-editors.

In a preliminary statement to shareholders, chairman Richard Jewson said strengthened advertising revenues, continued progress in its magazines business and cost controls contributed to the profit increase.

Some of the key points include:

  • On a like-for-like basis, total revenue grew by three per cent to £189.6m.
  • The regional newspaper and printing operations saw profit growth of 0.9 per cent while growth in magazines and contract publishing was 16.1 per cent.
  • Online revenues almost doubled to more than £2m. Monthly unique visitors across the 130-plus websites increased by 53.1 per cent.
  • The sale of its Scottish titles to Johnston Press saw a reduction in Archant’s net debt. The figure dropped from £54.8m at the start of the year to £36.9m at the year end.
  • Archant acquired two titles in Cambridgeshire – Agenda and Property Plus.
  • Archant Life bought West Essex Life and Living Edge magazines as well as Cheshire publishing business WeddingLink.
  • Mr Jewson said: “The outlook for 2008 is uncertain with a weakening of advertising in the final quarter of 2007 continuing into 2008.

    “Despite these uncertainties, we anticipate that our magazine business will see continued growth and that we will be able to build further upon our online developments.”

    Archant owns four regional daily newspapers, 70 weekly papers and more than 130 websites and employs around 2,600 people.