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Profits up 1.3pc at Belfast Telegraph publisher

Cost-cutting at Independent News and Media’s Irish division saw a small increase in operating profits of 1.3pc in 2010, despite a fall in revenue of 3.6pc.

The company, whose titles include the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, published its full year results which show that underlying operating profits for the group as a whole were up 13.9pc year-on-year to €87.9m.

For the Island of Ireland division, which covers all the group’s operations in the North and South of Ireland, revenue was down 3.6pc on 2009 to €399.1m, while operating profit was up 1.3pc to €53.9m.

The Irish results showed during the year, operating costs were reduced by €15.7m, equivalent to 4.4pc, despite a significant increase in newsprint – due to ‘vigilant cost control’ and the benefits of reductions in the previous year.

Costs have been reduced in a number of ways, including full integration of all major IT systems and management of the group’s print facilities across Ireland as a single business unit.

Across the division, the significant contraction in advertising revenues in 2009 continued into 2010, although at a lesser rate, with its leading titles experiencing a 12.5pc reduction.

All advertising categories except recruitment were down on 2009, with property being one of the hardest-hit areas.

Group chief executive officer Gavin O’Reilly said: “Advertising conditions remain challenging and, while visibility remains short, we are not anticipating any material advertising uplift in 2011.

“Assuming more normalised advertising conditions, easier comparatives, continued cost vigilance and having eliminated loss-making businesses, we are targeting a further improvement in operating profit for the year.”

The group also announced a number of new developments in its Irish division which includes the launch of a new online jobs portal, in partnership with Shepstone, to combine all its jobs boards and the start of an Irish version of GrabOne, an online coupon service which is already being used in INM’s Australasian division.