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Pandemic delivers £100m hit to Reach despite digital revenue growth

Jim Mullen 1Reach plc has revealed a £100m decline in revenue due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – despite a 10pc increase in income from digital platforms.

The publisher has revealed its full year results for 2020, which show group revenue dropped by 14.6pc to £600.2m.

Digital revenue increased to £118.3m, a rise of 10.6pc, while print revenue was down by 18pc to £479.3m – a drop which was “significantly driven” by a decline of 29.5pc for the second quarter of the year following the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Print circulation revenue declined by 11.6pc while advertising revenue declined by 28.9pc due to the significant impact on print advertising demand.

Results for the group’s regional titles showed a decline of 18pc for paid-for dailies, 28.9pc for paid-for weeklies and 22.1pc for paid-for Sundays.

Circulation revenue now accounts for 67pc of print revenue, according to the group.

Reach’s transformation programme, which saw the company shed around 600 jobs last year, delivered cost savings of over £35m at a cost of £16.5m in severance payments, while the closure of two print plants is expected to deliver annualised net savings of £11m.

As predicted by the publisher last month, an operating profit of £133.8m was recorded – a 12.8pc decrease on 2019’s results.

Chief executive Jim Mullen, pictured, said: “Reach has become a stronger business in 2020 thanks to the ongoing hard work and commitment of our people during this unprecedented year.

“A radical reorganisation of our business model not only makes us more efficient, it also enables our changing culture, which is evolving to support a growth led agenda.

“We have delivered our strategic milestones ahead of our original expectations and will now increase investment to accelerate delivery, focusing on the use of enhanced customer insight to drive engagement and our medium-term objective of doubling digital revenues.

“Resilience in print circulation is the foundation for the strong cash generation which underpins strategic investment, our pension commitments and growing returns to shareholders.

“While macro-economic uncertainty resulting from Covid-19 clearly remains, the group is well placed to make good progress during 2021 and to generate increased long term value as the customer value strategy gathers momentum.”

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