Local newspaper publisher sees profit fall in ‘challenging’ industry

Profit declines to €935,370 at the company behind the ‘Limerick Leader’ and ‘Kilkenny People’

Formpress Publishing, the company behind 14 local newspaper titles in Ireland, recorded a 12 per cent dip in pre-tax profit to €935,370 as the newspaper industry "continues to be challenging".

Turnover also fell by 3.6 per cent in the year ended March 31st 2017 at the company that acquired titles including the Kilkenny People and the Limerick Leader in April ,2014.

Recently filed accounts for Formpress show that turnover fell amid a €439,556 increase in the cost of sales to €2.75 million.

Formpress is 100 per cent owned by Iconic Newspapers, which paid Johnston Press €8.7 million for the Irish titles in 2014. Iconic is, in turn, 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.

The figure paid by Mr Denmark’s company to Johnston Press in 2014 represented just a fraction of the sums that Johnston spent on buying the newspapers during the boom.

Other titles 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).

Staff numbers at the group fell by 4 to 161 while wage and salary costs dropped by 4 per cent to €5.74 million.

In a note accompanying the accounts, the directors said they were satisfied that the results for the year were “consistent with expected levels”.

“The company has developed an established place for itself within its market and will continue developments in this area,” the directors added.