Smiths News finds that it pays to diversify

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The Independent Online

Smiths News, Britain's biggest newspaper and magazine distributor, reported a 6 per cent jump in half-year profits to £19.9m as its policy of diversifying into books, education and care products boosted turnover.

Its chief executive Mark Cashmore said the newspaper arm's revenue fell 3.9 per cent, partly because of price-cutting on Sundays as The Sun has been selling for half the price of its predecessor, the News of the World.But magazines dived 8.3 per cent as consumers cut spending. "Magazines are a discretionary purchase," explained Mr Cashmore, who has argued for some time that shoppers are tiring of celebrity news.

He stressed newspapers and magazines had maintained profits despite falling sales. "The way we consume media is changing but the markets we operate in are still large and very resilient," he said, noting 9 million print newspapers a day are sold in Britain. Group turnover rose 1.3 per cent to £905m.