The Irish Times’ group revenues rose by 2 per cent to €109.7 million last year but the media company slipped into the red as a result of a substantial rise in overheads and some once-off exceptional costs.
Accounts for The Irish Times DAC show that it made a loss before tax of just more than €5 million for the year to the end of December 2022. This compared with a pretax profit of just under €4.9 million a year earlier.
The company’s expenditure rose by €6.2 million, reflecting a €1 million rise in energy costs, a substantial increase in newsprint and an investment in core technology and employee numbers. Its investment portfolio reported losses of €2.7 million while the group’s net cash at the year-end reduced to €19.7 million.
Exceptional costs of €1.15 million related to termination payments made to former managing director Paul Mulvaney and former editor Paul O’Neill. Both left the group in 2022.
The group owns The Irish Times, the Examiner in Cork, property website MyHome.ie and a group of regional titles and a majority share in two radio licences.
Group turnover was boosted by a 10 per cent rise in digital subscriptions, a 5 per cent rise in advertising and a 12 per cent increase in third-party printing contracts.
The group is now the biggest print publisher on the island having taken over a contract to publish for Mediahuis, whose titles include the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday World.
Print circulation revenues declined by 6 per cent last year, although this represented a better performance than the market overall, which showed a drop of 10 per cent.
Commenting on the results, Deirdre Veldon, managing director of The Irish Times, said: “Our revenues were back up to 2019 levels in 2022 thanks to growth in our digital subscriptions, advertising and increased revenues from printing contracts for other publishers. That increase is the result of the hard work, creativity and commitment of all our staff.
“That said, we experienced a big increase in costs, particularly those we can’t control, including electricity and costs associated with printing our publications.”
On current trading, Ms Veldon said the outlook “remains challenging” and there continues to be “significant pressure” on costs right across the business with the company set to open a programme of voluntary redundancies.
“Following a cost review earlier this year, we are finalising a range of measures to manage our costs effectively, including the introduction of a voluntary parting programme,” she said.
Ms Veldon added: “We plan to accelerate the growth of our digital reader revenues by enhancing our product and by continuing to exploit the opportunities at home and internationally. We plan to make full use of the stable of strong brands under our current portfolio while exploring how to make the best of bundled services,” she said.
The accounts show that at the end of 2022, Ms Veldon, as managing director, and editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic were paid salaries of €270,000 each. The chairman of the board, Shay Garvey, was on annual remuneration of €67,000 while the chairman of The Irish Times Trust, John Hegarty, received €31,000.