David Prosser: Yell still has some time to put things right


Outlook Good news and bad from Yell. The Yellow Pages publisher's profits warning yesterday suggests that, even allowing for the difficulteconomic environment, its print business – previously so profitable – is dwindling away faster than anyone expected. The glass-half-full perspective, however, is that a narrow window of opportunity remains to replace that business with digital revenues.

Mike Pocock, the company's new chief executive, is promising to unveil the results of his strategic review of Yell's options in June. But his conclusions are not difficult to foresee: in an online world, fewer and fewer people will turn to a heavy yellow book with 500 pages to flick through should they require the services of, say, a local plumbing firm.

Happily for Yell, the print business is still throwing off enough cash to service its debt mountain, giving Mr Pocock some time to breathe. Even better, while Google may have internet search all wrapped up at a general level, the local market is much more fragmented. No single player currently has more than an 8 per cent share of local search.

Moreover, Yell is performingbetter than you might realise in this sector. It may not be your search engine of choice just yet for local inquiries, but it's likely to appear pretty high up in the results generated by Google – and then to provide more fulsome answers. It has advantages too: an established brand, a salesforce already doing the rounds flogging print advertising and a broad product offering.

For all that, Yell has been talking about embracing digital, without actually doing so, for far too long. Mr Pocock may talk the right language, but will his strategic review deliver something his salesforce can shift in sufficient quantities to replace that disappearing print revenue? And will the brand prove a double-edged sword, with younger consumers writing it off as belonging to a bygone era?

Not necessarily. One could imagine how a Yell app, tailored to your local area, might be hugely attractive, for example. The company is also investigating social networking. But it had better move quickly: there are plenty of competitors ready to jump ahead of it unless Yell gets it right. And none of them are saddled with a debt pile getting on for £3bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Guru Careers: Stockbroker

£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell