The Irish Times posts pretax profit of €2.1m

Digital revenues continue to grow

Managing director Liam Kavanagh said advertising had risen for the first time since 2007.

Managing director Liam Kavanagh said advertising had risen for the first time since 2007.

 

The Irish Times Ltd made a pretax profit of €2.1 million in 2014, down from €5.4 million the previous year. This was due to a continuing decline in newspaper sales and the non-recurrence of a near €2 million exceptional gain in 2013.

Latest accounts for the media company show that group turnover, which includes joint ventures, fell by 0.8 per cent to €86.9 million. Excluding joint ventures, turnover fell by 1.3 per cent to €83.3 million.

While digital revenue continues to grow, income from sales of The Irish Times newspaper fell by 6.2 per cent due to a decline in circulation.

Exceptional costs included €943,201 for redundancies, and an impairment charge of €417,000 relating to the closure of Metro Herald, a joint-venture publication.

The accounts detail the closure in March 2015 of the defined benefit pension scheme for staff. Some €11 million will be paid over seven years to enhance transfer values for employees who have moved to defined contribution pensions.

A separate scheme for senior management has also been wound up and the net gain to the profit and loss account will be €45.7 million, which eliminates the deficit on the group’s balance sheet.

Commenting on the results, managing director Liam Kavanagh said that while the decline in newspaper sales was a “drag” on performance, advertising had risen for the first time since 2007 and the business benefited from the first full year of a contract to print titles for the Examiner group.

On the outlook for 2015, Mr Kavanagh predicted a “better year” for the business. He said digital subscriptions have increased to 28,000 since the introduction of a paywall in February, from 18,000. “It has given us a channel to a group of consumers that we didn’t previously have, which is very powerful for us. It’s something to build on from here,” he said.

Mr Kavanagh announced a long-term commercial arrangement with rival Independent News & Media. This will involve The Irish Times printing the Irish Daily Star and Sunday World at its Citywest plant while INM’s subsidiary Newspread will manage the Irish Times distribution.

“The market needs to consolidate and this is a step along the way,” Mr Kavanagh said.

The group’s payroll costs reduced during 2014 by €1 million to €33.7 million, with staff numbers declining to 423 from 450 previously.

There were no pay increases for the executive directors or the chairmen of The Irish Times Ltd or The Irish Times Trust Ltd. Mr Kavanagh was paid €270,000 while editor Kevin O’Sullivan received €240,000.