GWR shows 30% rise in advertising sales

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The Independent Online
RADIO advertising sales, both at national and local level, are growing by more than 30 per cent year-on- year at GWR, the Wiltshire-based local radio operator.

The USM-quoted company, in which the Daily Mail has a 19.2 per cent stake, produced profits up by more than a quarter at pounds 913,000 in the year to end September, a better- than-expected performance that helped to push the share price up 17p to 770p.

But Ralph Bernard, GWR's chief executive, said that the group's recent expansion - it has just added eight Midland franchises to its existing nine stations - meant it still had considerable scope for continuing to improve profits.

He said: 'The 30 per cent-plus improvement in GWR sales is not matched by our new Midlands stations, where in the same period (October-December 1994 compared with October-December 1993) sales were only up 5-6 per cent. The potential upside is considerable.'

The new stations, which have more than doubled the group's potential audience, are expected to begin making a 'significant' contribution to operating profits from the second quarter of the year.

Mr Bernard also believes that the success of the new national station, Classic FM, in which GWR has a 17 per cent holding, will be another source of growth.

'It's very well established now and is potentially going to be extremely profitable,' he said.

GWR sees the South, the West and the Midlands as continuing to form the core of its activities. But it intends shortly to make another attempt to bid for London Business Radio, with its partners, the Daily Mail & General Trust, and Reuters.

Group turnover rose by 13.5 per cent to pounds 9.8m. Earnings per share were up 16 per cent at 18.4p and the board is recommending a final dividend of 5p, giving 9p for the year, an increase of 28 per cent.

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