Archant chairman Richard Jewson says future looks bright for group

The chairman of publishing group Archant expressed confidence in the future for the group highlighting growing circulations, online audience, cash generation and its increasing investment in areas of potential growth.

Richard Jewson announced headline turnover at �66.5m, down �0.8m (1.3pc), with operating profit before amortisation of intangible assets and exceptional items at �1.9m, down 0.7m. The group operating loss was �0.9m, lower than the �1.1m loss in 2011.

He said: 'Our strategy of driving growth in our key markets, maintaining cost efficiencies and continuing to grow revenue streams through investment in new business, is producing results, albeit against strong headwinds.

'Our core business is cash generative, circulations are growing and we are recording industry-leading sales performances. Our financial position is strong and a new banking agreement taking us through to 2016 was signed in June.

'We are firm in the view that it is right to continue to increase expenditure in areas where we believe we can generate growth. We shall maintain the interim dividend at last year's level of 6.4 pence per share,' said Mr Jewson.

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Local display advertising grew by 3.7pc, though total newspaper and printing turnover, at �43.2m was 1.5pc lower, while newspaper circulation revenues also showed growth on a like-for-like basis. Magazine revenues were down by 0.7pc at �23.3m with pressure on advertising revenues, down 3.2pc, and circulation revenues, down 2.6pc.

Total digital revenues at �3.1m grew 1.3pc.

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In the first half of the year Archant, which publishes the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and a host of weekly titles including the Great Yarmouth Mercury and Lowestoft Journal, spent �1m more than in 2011 in developing new businesses and is continuing to seek out new opportunities to complement its existing portfolio. In April, it launched, positioned to become a leading online wedding planning solution and in June invested in, a hyper-local street level social media site.

Archant is also investing in digital media in its local business units including new software tools to improve advertising yield and audience engagement. Monthly average unique visitors to its websites averaged 4.5m per month to June, up 21.5pc against the first half of 2011. In June, with growth of more than 80pc, London websites broke the one million unique visitor mark and London24 is now the second largest news website in the capital.

Mr Jewson said: 'We believe we are on the right track, though the absence of any real growth in the economy may hinder our progress. We have the right strategies, the right people and the right products for us to meet our customers' changing expectations and deliver greater value to our shareholders. The economy will eventually recover and when it does we will be in a strong position to take advantage of it.'

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