Profits rise by 20pc to £9.6m at community publisher Archant

Archant's chief executive Jeff Henry.

Archant's chief executive Jeff Henry. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Community publisher Archant will pay its first dividend since 2012, after seeing profits rise by 20pc to £9.6m in the past year.

The company, which publishes the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News among 130 newspapers and magazines, said revenue had fallen 1.9pc – its best relative performance since 2007, in difficult industry conditions.

Cash generation remained strong, with Archant ending 2015 with net cash balances of £12.7m. It will pay a final dividend of five pence per share.

Chief executive Jeff Henry said: 'Our goal for 2015 was making our core business robust – you can't build on foundations which are crumbling. 'We had to make sure the core businesses on which we are based were thriving and growing, and that's what we can now demonstrate.'

Mr Henry said 2016 would be about 'embracing digital', and that he remained confident Archant could achieve the goal of being recognised as the best local media company in the country by 2017. To do that, the company would need to be profitable and increasing revenues, with engaged staff and customers, and delivering innovative products 'which meet the needs of this decade and the decade to come', he said.

Magazine circulation increasing in more than half of titles in 2015, while newspaper circulation revenues showed small year-on-year growth, the company said.

Mr Henry said talks were also progressing with HMRC to resolve the company's outstanding tax bill, adding conclusion of the matter 'would be better for all parties.'

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Archant also made changes to its property estate in 2015, moving its London newspaper teams from Ilford to Barking, while the office in Ipswich was sold, with a new office at Portman House in development.

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