Mail group sees no bounce in advertising sales in 2002

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The Independent Online

The newspaper publisher Daily Mail and General Trust warned yesterday that it did not expect any upturn in the advertising market this year although circulation was holding up well.

The group, whose titles include the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday and the London newspapers the Evening Standard and Metro, said the decline in advertising revenues had halved from last autumn's level. But Peter Williams, DMGT's finance director, said: "We are not assuming we will see any significant pick up this calendar year."

DMGT said its newsprint bill for the year would be £25m lower and cost-saving initiatives had also been introduced on its main titles to offset the decline in revenues. Metro, a free newspaper, is still expected to break even by the end of the year.

Display advertising revenues across Associated Newspapers, which publishes the group's national titles, were down 8 per cent year on year in February compared with falls of 15 to 16 per cent last October and November. Although retail advertising continued to be strong, particularly for cars and travel, there had been little improvement in financial or IT advertising. Recruitment advertising in the Standard remains 40 per cent down.

Despite the downturn in advertising, DMGT said its profitability remained "robust", adding that it expected to achieve a satisfactory result for the financial year as a whole.

In the six months to February, the Daily Mail's circulation was up 3.4 per cent on the same period a year earlier while that of The Mail on Sunday was up 2.6 per cent. Advertising revenues at Northcliffe Newspapers, the group's regional newspaper business, was up by 3.5 per cent in February.