Reach beats expectations after lockdown boosts online revenue

PA

The owner of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers said it has done better than expected in the last five months, as online revenue remained high.

Reach, which also owns dozens of local newspapers across the country, said its print revenues had taken a hit, but overall the business had performed better than the market had predicted.

Print dropped 19.6%, but a 16.2% rise in digital revenue meant an overall decline of just 13.9%.

Sales of physical newspapers were badly hit at the beginning of the pandemic, and the misery was further compounded as companies facing uncertainty pulled advertising to save cash.

It forced Reach to announce around 700 redundancies across the business, in two tranches.

One tranche involved closing two of its six printing sites, something the company is currently consulting on.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “The passion and talent of our people continue to take the group and its news brands forward to its digital future. Reach has continued to deliver great content and continues to drive increased customer loyalty and engagement.

“The headwinds from Covid-19 have been considerable, but, while we remain mindful of potential impacts from the current lockdowns, we approach the end of the year with a strong and growing digital business, resilient print circulation sales, and a new, efficient operating model.”

Reach has not been the only news organisation to be hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week, DMGT, the company behind the Daily Mail, i and Metro newspapers, said that pre-tax profit dropped by 61% to £52 million, as revenue fell 14%.

Its commuter newspaper, Metro, was particularly badly affected, reflecting the experience of other freesheets.

London’s City AM, which is handed out free outside Tube stations, suspended its print edition in March, while the Evening Standard cut its editorial staff by two-fifths.

Reach shares rose 1.6% on Friday morning.

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