Mirror and Express newspapers reveal plunge in sales since lockdown

The publisher behind the Mirror and Express newspapers has revealed a slump in advertising revenues as companies rein in spending due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bosses at Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, said sales dropped 13.1% in the four months to April 26, with print revenues down 15.8%, although digital sales were up 4.7%.

The company said: “The group has seen declines in circulation sales, falls in print advertising revenue at a national and local level, reduced printing requirements from third parties, impacts from cancelled events and a reduction in digital yields due to lower advertising demand.”

During April alone, with the full lockdown in place, revenues fell 30.5%, with print off by 31.8% and digital revenues off 22.5%.

It added: “While in some areas we have recently seen a stabilisation in trends, circulation remains significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels and advertising remains very challenging and uncertain, with regional advertising particularly impacted.”

Since lockdown, the business has suspended its dividend, introduced pay cuts, scrapped bonuses and furloughed some staff.

Bosses also revealed they have agreed a three-month deferral on pension fund payments.

As as a result of the savings, net cash on April 26 was £33.2 million, with a cash balance of £58.2 million, less £25 million which has been drawn down from the group’s revolving credit facility.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “Our strategy is now even more relevant than before the crisis so we are accelerating plans to drive digital engagement and capture the customer insight and data that is so key. This will ensure a strong and sustainable future for Reach’s trusted news brands.”