Booming digital sales could put Auto Trader out of print

Booming digital revenues now make up almost 80 per cent of sales at Auto Trader and could hasten the end of the print version of the car-classifieds magazine in 12-18 months.

Annual turnover rose only 1 per cent to £257.2m, but digital sales, from the web and smartphones, jumped by 11 per cent to £202m.

Auto Trader is a rare example of a print title that transformed itself successfully into a digital brand, with operating profits before exceptionals up 9 per cent to £129m.

Its parent company Trader Media Group used that performance to let joint owners Guardian Media Group and Apax Partners take a £210m dividend.

However, GMG and Apax had to add £150m to TMG's debt load.

Its pre-tax profits were £22.3m compared to £83.5m a year earlier.

GMG and Apax will have been keen to take a big dividend after writing down the value of another investment, magazines and events business, Top Right Group.

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