Irish Times Ltd reports loss of €27.9m for 2009

 

THE IRISH Times Ltd made an after-tax loss of €27.9 million in 2009 as a result of costs related to a restructuring of the business and the effect of the recession on advertising revenues.

This compared with a loss of €37.8 million in 2008.

Latest accounts for the company show that turnover declined by 25.9 per cent to €92 million.

Circulation revenues fell marginally during the year but advertising income was 42.5 per cent lower due to the effects of the economic slowdown, particularly in property and recruitment.

The Irish Times made an operating loss of €4.6 million last year. This compared with an operating profit of €6.4 million in 2008.

The company booked exceptional costs of €19.3 million and expenses relating to its pension scheme of €3.9 million.

The exceptional costs included a charge of €8 million relating to its reorganisation and an €8.5 million impairment of goodwill on Myhome.ie, a property website owned by The Irish Times Ltd.

The reorganisation has reduced payroll costs by €9 million a year.

The Irish Times had no net debt at the end of 2009 and had cash on its balance sheet of €13 million.

The total remuneration of executive directors was €3.1 million last year. This included an ex-gratia payment of €1.1 million to former managing director Maeve Donovan, who retired from the company in February 2010.

Ms Donovan is the subject of a non-compete arrangement for two years for an annual payment of €50,000 a year.

The accounts show that Ms Donovan was paid €319,000 in 2009 as managing director.

Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy received the same level of salary.

Their pay was reduced by 20 per cent from the 2008 level of €399,000 as part of a programme of pay cuts across the company.

Liam Kavanagh, who was appointed managing director in March 2010, was paid €259,000 in his role as deputy managing director last year.

Deputy editor Paul O’Neill received €173,000 in salary. Both men took pay cuts of 15 per cent in 2009.

Commenting on current trading, Mr Kavanagh said: “Trading-wise we will break even in cash terms for 2010. In profit terms, there will be a loss because of a depreciation stream.”

He estimated the group loss for 2010 will be about €8 million.

Looking to 2011, Mr Kavanagh said the continued difficult economic backdrop meant the company would have to re-evaluate its cost base.

“We are going to work our way through that process and identify where we can achieve savings,” he said.

Mr Kavanagh said The Irish Times would also seek to exploit opportunities in digital media.

Its new e-paper has achieved daily sales of 1,500 while there have been more than 30,000 downloads of iPhone applications.

Myhome.ie is “profitable” and all digital subsidiaries would be operating in the black by the end of this year, he said.

“Our engagement with the reader and the online audience is strong. The key thing now is to turn that into revenue for the company going forward.”