Booming digital sales could put Auto Trader out of print

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The Independent Online

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.