Sub-committee takes charge of INM as Crowley exits

Revenues at the media group are running down 2.8%, as advertising and circulation declines

Independent News & Media (INM) will be managed by a sub-committee of its board of directors until a new chief executive is found, the group said yesterday.

The sub-committee comprises chairman Leslie Buckley as well as directors Triona Mullane, Allan Marshall and Terry Buckley.

Leslie Buckley is a long-term business associate of INM’s largest shareholder, Denis O’Brien. Ms Mullane, Mr Marshall and Terry Buckley were each appointed to the board of the company between June and December 2012.

The departure of chief executive Vincent Crowley, announced in February, came into effect yesterday, the group confirmed. Mr Crowley succeeded Gavin O'Reilly in the role in April 2012.


The search for a replacement chief executive is "ongoing", INM said.

Revenues at INM fell almost 3 per cent in the first part of 2014, with both advertising and circulation income dropping over the period.

In a trading update to investors, the media group said total revenues declined 2.8 per cent between January 1st and May 16th compared to the same period last year.

Circulation revenues fell 2.5 per cent, while total newspaper advertising income declined 2.4 per cent.

Digital advertising revenues increased 17.8 per cent, however, and despite a “substantial investment in digital activities”, operating costs were trimmed by 2.8 per cent.

The group signalled that trading conditions have improved since the announcement of its 2013 full-year results in mid-March.

Strong growth
"A number of newspaper advertising categories have shown strong year-to-date growth, with recruitment, property and inserts showing the largest year-on-year revenue increases," it said.

“The reduction in newspaper advertising revenue year-to-date is primarily related to the performance of our Northern Irish operations, with the Republic of Ireland newspaper business showing a year-to-date decline of 1 per cent.”

The surge in digital revenues, which has also accelerated since March, is “principally due to strong growth in our digital publishing operations, together with our Northern Ireland classifieds business”, it said. The company’s discount deals platform, GrabOne, has showed “marginal” year-to-date growth.

The group said the impact on profitability of both declining revenues and digital investment has been largely mitigated by the financial benefits of its two cost-cutting programmes, this year’s €9 million “Project Quantum”, which is targeting production and sub-editing costs, and last year’s larger €26 million exercise, code-named “Project Resolute”.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

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