Guardian group announces £90m pre-tax loss

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The Independent Online

Guardian Media Group today reported major losses of almost £90m as it complained that its national newspapers and websites were operating in the "toughest trading conditions seen for many years". The group's regional newspapers suffered plunging profits while the radio business made a significant loss.

In its annual report for 2008-2009, GMG, which publishes The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, reported a pre-tax loss of £89.8m, compared with a profit last year of £306.4m, on turnover which was down to £405.4m compared with £502.1m.

Guardian News & Media, the group's national newspaper division, reported an increase in operating losses to £36.8m, compared to £26.4m in 2008, on a reduced turnover of £253.6m compared with £261.9m.

Despite the losses, the GNM editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger received an 11 per cent rise in salary to £445,000 for the year to 29 March. Rusbridger said in April that he would take a 10 per cent pay cut this year.

The GMG chief executive, Carolyn McCall, took a 39.7 per cent pay cut last year, receiving a total package of £498,000. Her salary was £472,000 and her benefits totalled £26,000.The previous year she received a total of £827,000, including a salary of £424,000 and bonus of £385,000.

Yesterday McCall said: "The sharp decline in the advertising market had an impact on each of the wholly owned businesses. All are reducing costs to a more sustainable level in this harsh new environment."

GMG's 2008 profit figures were inflated by the one-off proceeds from selling a 49.9 per cent of Trader Media Group, publishers of Auto Trader. That joint venture, in which GMG retains a 50.1 per cent share, is the group's most profitable arm with an operating profit of £110.8m (compared with £119.9m in 2008) on turnover of £296m (£309.9m).

The local newspaper division, GMG Regional Media, which includes the Manchester Evening News, saw operating profit down to £0.5m (from £14.3m in 2008) on turnover down to £94.5m (from £120.5m). GMG described the current market as "the most challenging in the history of the local and regional press". GMG Radio, which includes stations such as Smooth and Real Radio, posted an operating loss of £6.6m (compared with £0.1m profit in 2008) on turnover of £46.6m (£48.8m).