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Regional publisher hails 5pc revenue growth in 2023

Regional publisher National World has revealed a 5pc increase in overall revenues during 2023 with several acquisitions contributing to its income growth.

An end-of-year trading update issued today showed the group’s revenues rose from £84.1m in 2022 to £88m last year.

Digital revenues were up from £16.3m to £18.4m – a 13pc rise – while circulation and print advertising revenues together amounted to £61.2m compared to £62.5m the previous year.

The group’s overall revenue growth was boosted by the acquisitions during the year of the Express & Star, Shropshire Star, Rotherham Advertiser and Insider Media, among other smaller purchases.

JP's Leeds office

National World’s Leeds HQ

Today’s figures also revealed that group achieved cost savings of £6m across the year.

As previously reported on HTFP, 46 journalists were put at risk during a summer redundancy programme that was due to see the loss of 25 full-time equivalent roles, inclusing five deputy editors and three audience editors.

Today’s update also highlights ongoing plans to “refocus and upgrade” the company’s digital offering, starting with “premium brands” The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and the Belfast Newsletter.

It reveals that The Scotsman has achieved a 7pc annual subscription growth since the changes.

National World chairman David Montgomery said: “In 2023 the Group completed seven acquisitions of iconic and premium brands strengthening our portfolio, particularly in the events and business information sector.

“Our greater scale, combined with significant investment in innovation and automation, underpins our accelerating transition to a multi-platform content business, focused on creative and expert talent.

“Our sector consolidation of heritage brands has strengthened our expertise both geographically and by content genre, helping to distinguish us in news provision but also in the areas of information and entertainment.

“The short term augmentation of revenues will help propel a new sustainable model that will be evidenced during 2024 with the launch of a number of key initiatives now at an advanced stage of development.”

Today’s report reveals that for the seven acquisitions completed in the period, the group paid a total of £14.4m.

The deal to buy the Express & Star and Shropshire Star and other Midlands News Association titles is believed to have been worth £11m.

No figure has been put on the purchases of Insider Media and the Rotherham Advertiser, which also included the Dearne Valley Weekender, the Rotherham Record and bi-monthly lifestyle magazine Chase.

Mr Montgomery added that the company “will continue to seek to take advantage of further acquisitions that release significant synergies.”

The update also promised an increased focus on original content with more journalists undertaking specialist roles.

It stated:  “As part of our transition to a sustainable operating model and the focus on talent and expert and original content, the Company is redeploying its journalists on the basis of individual specialisms that will sharpen the competitiveness of the business and promote career advancement.”