Formpress Publishing reports €1.2m pretax profit

Iconic Newspapers subsidiary’s publications include ‘Kilkenny People’ and ‘Limerick Leader’

Johnston Press recently agreed to buy the ‘i’ newspaper from the Evgeny Lebedev-owned ESI Media. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Johnston Press recently agreed to buy the ‘i’ newspaper from the Evgeny Lebedev-owned ESI Media. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

 
Iconic Newspapers subsidiary Formpress Publishing, the company behind 14 local news titles in Ireland, made a pretax profit of almost €1.2 million in its first trading period, accounts filed to the Companies Office show.

The newspapers, which include the Kilkenny People and the Limerick Leader, were sold by Johnston Press to Iconic Newspapers in 2014.

Formpress, which employs 169 people, recorded a turnover of €14.2 million in the 14 months to the end of March 2015, according to the accounts. The net profit for the period arrived at just under €982,000 and a dividend of €150,000 was paid.

Other newspapers owned by the company include the Longford Leader, the Tipperary Star, the Donegal Democrat, the Leinster Express, the Leitrim Observer and the Nationalist (based in Clonmel).

Formpress is 100 per cent owned by Iconic Newspapers, which paid Johnston Press €8.7 million for the Irish titles in April 2014. Iconic is controlled by British advertising executive Malcolm Denmark.

Mr Denmark, a racehorse owner, is the majority shareholder of Mediaforce (Holdings) Ltd, while the UK-registered Mediaforce is the ultimate parent of the group.

In a note accompanying the accounts, the directors said there had been “no significant change” in its newspaper publishing activities during the year. “The company has developed an established place for itself within its market,” their report adds.

“As for many businesses of this size, the industry in which it operates continues to be challenging,” it states.

The figure paid by Mr Denmark’s company to Johnston Press represented just a fraction of the sums that Johnston spent on buying the newspapers during the boom.

Since selling the titles to Mr Denmark, Edinburgh-based Johnston has continued to make cuts across its portfolio of news media assets in Britain and Northern Ireland, although it also recently agreed to buy the i newspaper from the Evgeny Lebedev-owned ESI Media.