Daily Mail owner to save £100m

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The Independent Online

The owner of the Daily Mail announced plans today to save £100m as advertising markets suffer and costs rise.

Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) has cut 400 posts so far as part of the plans to take "decisive action to defend profitability" in worsening economic conditions.

The move came as its underlying pre-tax profits fell 9 per cent to £262m in the year to 28 September.

Although national titles under the Associated Newspapers banner put in a "commendable" performance, its Northcliffe regional business has been hit hard.

Growing unemployment and an ailing housing market has impacted on property and recruitment revenues, which fell by 28 per cent last month.

Northcliffe, where operating profits fell 26 per cent to £68m, saw such severe cutbacks in September that property advertising revenues were just half what was achieved a year earlier.

"The gloomy economic outlook points to extremely challenging conditions for our key advertising markets throughout the coming year," DMGT warned.

The group said it was also putting the cost-saving plans in place to counter higher newsprint costs.

Shares rose 8 per cent after the results. Panmure Gordon's Alex DeGroote said: "Whilst there is not much detail, this is equivalent to 5 per cent off the group cost base. This is the most aggressive profit protection plan DMGT has ever implemented."

Associated, which also owns the London Evening Standard and Metro free newspapers, held overall revenues flat last year despite the economic woes and competition in London, as well as the cost of full-colour printing

But during October Associated said total advertising revenues fell 10 per cent and warned "it is difficult to predict trading performance for the rest of the first quarter, with even less visibility thereafter".

DMGT's business-to-business operations performed more strongly, with an 8 per cent rise in sales last year.

DMG Information owns a host of businesses providing specialist data for sectors such as property, insurance and financial services.

The group said of the operation: "Whilst much uncertainty remains in its markets, quite a number of its businesses expect to deliver growth even in these markets."