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Reach reveals £28.9m profit after ‘strong’ digital recovery and restructure

MullenReach plc has revealed profits of £28.9m after a “strong recovery” in digital advertising and a major restructure which saw the company make around 550 roles redundant.

The company says it is performing “materially ahead of market expectations” despite the coronavirus crisis after publishing its half-yearly financial report this morning.

The results show total revenue for the first half of 2020 down by 17.5pc to £290.8m, with print revenue falling by 20.1pc to £241m, circulation revenue declining by 11.5pc and print advertising recording a 31.9pc drop.

Digital revenue decreased by just 1pc for the 26-week period up to 28 June this year.

Reach revealed plans to shed around 550 jobs, including approximately 300 in editorial and circulation, in July.

The company says the move represented a one-off cost saving of £20m and will save the business £5m annually, while the restructure was achieved with fewer compulsory redundancies than originally planned.

The group’s statutory revenue was £290.8m, down 17.5pc from £352.6m for the same period last year, while statutory operating profit stood at £28.9m, down from £63.7m.

During the six months, the company also exceeded its target of registering 2m users on its websites, with 3.5m signing up – representing around 8pc of its audience.

On the digital front, it also recorded a 27.2pc year-on-year increase in “average monthly loyal users” between March and August and experienced digital revenue growth in Q3 of 12.9pc.

Reach chief executive Jim Mullen, pictured, said: “We have seen a strong recovery in the digital advertising market since the worst impacts of Covid-19 in April which has driven a return to healthy digital revenue growth since July, assisted by increased customer engagement and loyalty.

“This illustrates the significant potential of the customer value strategy as our websites, apps and newsletters attract increased page views from our scale audience, helping to drive forward digital revenues.”

The company is to review its print capacity requirements in Q4, although Jim noted circulation sales had stabilised and shown a gradual recovery during Q2 and Q3.

He added: “Following the implementation of the major parts of the transformation programme, Reach now has a strong foundation to drive the next phase of the customer value strategy with increased efficiency and agility in our advertising and editorial operations.

“Award-winning journalism and content enable our news brands to shape the daily conversations of millions of people. Moving forward we will see continued momentum from new and improved products.

“Our strengthened customer insight and innovation teams will assist us in driving stronger and deeper customer relationships, increasing our appeal to advertisers and driving revenue growth.

“This will enable Reach to continue to deliver for stakeholders over the long-term. With the business currently performing materially ahead of market expectations, the board is recommending an issue of bonus shares to shareholders.”