Daily Mirror publisher Reach looks to digital growth as revenues slide

Daily Mirror and Daily Express publisher Reach has reported a slump in annual revenues, as the newspaper owner announced ambitious plans to drive growth online.

The publisher said it plans to increase its number of registered online users sevenfold by the end of 2022, as it looks to soften the impact of falling print sales.

Reach saw revenue for the year to December 29 slide by 3% to £702.5 million, in the company’s first full year since acquiring the Daily Express and Daily Star in 2018.

Meanwhile, the company swung back into the black, recording a £120.9 million pre-tax profit in 2019 as it bounced back from a £119 million loss in the previous year.

The company, which also owns a raft of regional titles, was buoyed by a rise in like-for-like digital revenue, which increased by 13.2% during the year.

Reach also said profits were strengthened by cost savings, including £12 million from “structural cost savings” during the period.

Jim Mullen, chief executive officer of Reach, said: “2019 was a year of good operational and solid financial progress with record growth in audience numbers, consistently good cash generation and a strong balance sheet.

“This, along with unparalleled scale, underpins our drive to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term whilst continuing to deliver for our stakeholders.”

The publisher said it is currently performing in line with management expectations for the current year.

Reach also announced a new growth strategy to increase its number of registered customers from under one million to seven million by the end of 2022.

It said it plans to increase customer engagement and will look to improve customer experience across its digital titles as it looks to grow membership numbers.

The figures come days after the owner of the Sun newspaper reported a £68 million loss in its latest financial year, as it felt the impact of dwindling print sales.

News Group Newspapers said sales of the Sun fell by 8% to 1.38 million in the year to July, although it remains the UK’s most popular paper.