Regional publisher Northcliffe Media has warned of “extremely challenging conditions” in the coming year while also pointing to continued growth in its digital operations.
A review of the company’s performance in the annual report of parent company DMGT published today reveals that property advertising was down 22pc last year, recuitment advertising down 11pc and motors advertising by 12pc.
However the falls accelerated in the final months of the year, with overall advertising revenue down 28pc in October.
The document states: “The first signs of advertising weakness appeared towards the start of the financial year when growth suddenly stopped and then went into a gentle decline. The rate of decline then accelerated almost on a monthly basis.
“The gloomy economic outlook points to extremely challenging conditions for our key advertising markets in the coming year.
“A new regional operating structure has been implemented which should allow us to benefit from our scale in the South West and in the Midlands and North. We have reviewed all areas of expenditure and are in the process of removing significant costs.”
Successes listed in the report include the relaunch of the regional thisis sites on a new operating platform which has improved search engine optimisation and enabled new, hyperlocal sites to be launched.
The report also highlights the relaunch of the Bath Chronicle as a weekly title with a sale of 20,000 copies – 8,000 more than its previous daily sale.
Digital revenues grew year on year by 42pc to £17m, representing 6pc of all advertising income. Meanwhile, newspaper circulation revenues fell by 3pc to £73m.