The company behind the Irish Daily Star increased its net profit by 33 per cent to €1.45 million in its final year as a joint venture between the owners of the Irish Independent and British group Reach, the publisher of the Mirror titles.
Belgian-owned Mediahuis Ireland, which previously traded as Independent News & Media (INM), completed the sale of its 50 per cent shareholding to Reach in November 2020, and the Irish Daily Star is now fully owned by Reach.
The profit achieved in 2020 compared to a figure of about €972,000 in 2019 and came despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on advertising and circulation revenues, accounts for Independent Star show.
While turnover fell from €14.8 million in 2019 to €13.2 million last year, costs were cut to a greater extent across the board. This meant pre-tax operating profit climbed from €1.1 million to €1.7 million.
The newspaper – which as of the end of 2020 employed 72 people, the same as it did 12 months earlier – saw its wages and salaries bill drop from €3.4 million to €3.1 million last year.
A dividend of €1 million was paid, down from €1.15 million the year before.
Reach, which is one of the largest national and regional newspaper groups in the UK, agreed to buy the 50 per cent stake it did not already own from INM in July 2020. It then fully acquired the company on November 24th, 2020, days after securing regulatory clearance for the deal.
The news group originally acquired its 50 per cent stake in the Irish Daily Star in 2018 when it bought the news publishing assets of Richard Desmond’s Northern and Shell.
In April, the trade and assets of Independent Star were transferred to a UK-registered company, MGN Limited, at net book value. The effective date of the transaction was December 28th, 2020, with Independent Star effectively ceasing to trade from this date.
As such, the directors have prepared the financial statements on a basis that the company is no longer a going concern.
As well as the Irish Daily Star, Reach publishes the Irish Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People in the Irish market, while it also owns RSVP magazine and the websites buzz.ie, dublinlive.ie and rsvplive.ie.