Business Post clips pretax loss to €215,000 despite Covid-19 impact

Trading climate in 2020 ‘very challenging’ with digital projects put on hold

The company behind the Business Post newspaper and website narrowed its losses in 2020 as it limited the decline in its revenue to 1.7 per cent despite the impact of Covid-19 on its events business.

Post Publications Limited incurred a pretax loss of €215,420 in the year the pandemic struck, which compares to a loss of €526,507 in 2019, when it had higher exceptional costs, according to accounts just filed to the Companies Office.

The company said the trading environment for most of the year was “very challenging”, but that a strong performance in the fourth quarter had helped it secure annual revenue of just over €7 million.

In a note accompanying the 2020 accounts for Post Publications, the directors said revenue from its Sunday newspaper circulation and digital subscriptions recorded “strong growth” in the year compared to 2019 as consumers “sought out high-quality, fact-checked journalism as a result of the pandemic”.

While advertising revenues were “adversely affected” by the economic shutdown in the second and third quarter, they “bounced back sharply” in the fourth quarter.

Similar patterns for both direct consumer income and advertising have been reported across the Irish media market.

Following the 2020 loss, the accounts for Post Publications show a shareholders’ deficit of €1.92 million.

The company, which is owned by businessman Enda O’Coineen’s Kilcullen Kapital Partners, is also active in conferences and other corporate events. It was obliged to cancel these throughout the spring and summer, but investment in a digital streaming platform allowed it to begin staging virtual events from September 2020 onwards.

Digital project

Some elements of a two-year digital transformation project that began in 2019 were put “on hold” during the pandemic, with the business focusing instead on pivoting to home working practices and lockdown trading conditions, the directors said.

“Given some of the product building blocks put in place in 2020, management believe that the company is well positioned to return to profitability before exceptional items in 2021,” the directors said.

The company – which employed an average of 70 people in 2020, down from 74 in the previous year – availed of the Government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme between April and August 2020 and also entered an approved Revenue Commissioners scheme to “warehouse” tax payments for 2020.

The Business Post is led by chief executive Colm O'Reilly, who is the current chairman of industry trade body Newsbrands Ireland, while Richie Oakley has been editor of the publication since mid-2019. Before November 2019, the newspaper was known as the Sunday Business Post.

The group last year acquired the Irish and UK market research company Red C, its long-term partner for political polling.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics

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