Emap plans major magazine launch in France despite falling revenues

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The Independent Online

A weak French economy cast a shadow over Emap's half yearly trading statement yesterday, but the media group said it was planning a major magazine launch in France to bolster its position in the market.

A weak French economy cast a shadow over Emap's half yearly trading statement yesterday, but the media group said it was planning a major magazine launch in France to bolster its position in the market.

Its pre-close update before full interim results on 16 November revealed it had suffered news-stand revenue declines of up to 20 per cent among certain French titles.

The worst hit were its French television listings titles, Tele Star and Tele Poche, after the launch of a fortnightly rival. Consumer news-stand revenues were down 8 per cent, while advertising revenues were down 4 per cent. Overall, Emap's French business saw a revenue decline of 4 per cent, with like-for-like sales down by the same amount.

However, Gary Hughes, Emap's finance director, said the company was committed to the French market and would be launching new magazines in the next 12 months.

In radio, airtime revenues recovered after a tough first quarter. Music television saw 13 per cent revenue growth as rivals fell by the wayside, the company said. Mr Hughes and the Emap chief executive, Tom Malone, will be watching today's merger announcement between Capital and GWR closely. However, Emap is understood to be relaxed about the deal and is thought unlikely to object to competition regulators about the tie-up.

Emap is eyeing the purchase of Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH), where it has a 27 per cent stake. SRH announced its own annual results update yesterday, saying like-for-like revenues will be up 9 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Emap group, its trade magazines and exhibitions business traded strongly during the half year with like-for-like sales up 8 per cent, while sales at Emap's consumer magazines division were up 6 per cent. It said Zoo, its men's weekly magazine launch, was now selling 225,000 copies a week and was level pegging with Nuts, its arch-rival from IPC. Overall, consumer magazine copy sales revenues were up 5 per cent while advertising increased 3 per cent.

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