Regional publisher Northcliffe Media has reported a 34pc increase in profits in the first half of its financial year despite falling revenues.
Operating profits at the group rose from £8m in the period October 2010 to March 2011 to £11m in the same period in 2011-12, according to half-yearly results published by parent company DMGT today.
The growth came in spite of a 10pc reduction in revenues from £120m to £107m.
At the same time, publishing costs fell by 13pc, with 164 fewer people employed at the group than in October 2011.
Today’s report said the profits increase reflected the “early benefits of the transformation plan” put in place at the group since the arrival of Steve Auckland as chief executive last year.
This included converting four daily titles to weekly, leading to a 5pc overall fall in circulation revenues to £29m.
However the group said cover price increases had mitigated the sales decline and, excluding the dailies-turned-weeklies, it saw an underlying circulation revenue increase of 2pc.
Advertising revenues were down 11pc to £75m, but the group said the new national advertising partnership with Trinity Mirror which began this month was expected to deliver improvements.
Said Steve: “We set out so simplify the business in 2011 and this first phase has largely been achieved. There’s been an enormous amount of activity and change necessary to deliver these results and the team have displayed real professionalism. We now have a pace and momentum to the business.
“We’re particularly keen to continue to strengthen the core pillars of the business – local content and local sales, both in print and in digital. The opportunities within digital are particularly exciting, as currently 90pc of our regular print customers are not being served with a digital solution.
“Warren Buffet last week purchased 63 local US papers. He commented at the time that in towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution that the local paper.
“Northcliffe has a portfolio of incredibly powerful local brands that have strong ties with their community and outsell all national newspapers in their towns and cities. We look forward to building on this strength.”