Saturday 1 October 2016

INM in acquisition mode as it announces strong results

Published 04/03/2016 | 07:14

INM chief executive Robert Pitt
INM chief executive Robert Pitt

Independent News & Media is in acquisition mode , it said today as it announced a strong set of full-year results.

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INM chief executive Robert Pitt said the media firm is looking to acquire print businesses in Ireland and at digital operations in the UK to add to its stable.

However, he added that any acquisitions would have to add value to the group.

INM has reported strong growth in the past year boosted by increased digital advertising revenues against a backdrop of cost control.

The company posted pre-tax profits of €37.4m in the year ended December 2015, up 29.4pc and enhanced by a 41.7pc hike in digital advertising revenues to €12.5m.

In the same period, the owner of this website and a number of publications including the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, The Herald and the Sunday World, cut interest costs significantly while a focus on cost management meant an improved operating margin.

The company reported revenues of €321.2m, up just under 1pc while growth in total advertising sales was €2.8m, up 3.4pc while there was also a 5pc increase in distribution revenues.

Robert Pitt, group chief executive officer, said: “The Group delivered a strong performance in 2015 considering the strong headwinds the sector is experiencing.

He added that the strengthening economy created a positive environment for improved business while consumer sentiment buoyed advertising, in particular.

“Driven by digital, increases were recorded in overall group revenues and the company ended the year with a strong balance sheet, significantly improved profit before tax and strong cash flow,” he said.

However, he added that the print publishing industry continues to face challenging conditions as it faces rapid structural change, the need to invest in and improve the quality of the offer is paramount and INM is creating the conditions to do that.

“This strategy will support both INM and its business partners; INM’s market outperformance is keeping the newspaper category alive for both publishers and retail channels.

“These results have been achieved through the hard work and commitment of our employees, for which we are very grateful,” he said.

He added that while circulation revenue declined by 4.1pc, INM strongly outperformed the industry average.

In the Republic of Ireland, INM accounts for over 50pc of the quality daily market, over 65pc of the quality Sunday market, while the Belfast Telegraph continues to hold a strong No.1 position within the local daily newspaper market place in Northern Ireland and the Sunday Life has increased circulation market share, performing ahead of local competitors. 

Independent.ie has also strengthened its position as Ireland’s number one online news publisher across desktop and mobile - it delivered 978m page impressions in 2015 while sundayworld.com has also performed strongly in growing its audience and engagement.

Audience numbers as defined by unique visitors/month to independent.ie grew to an average of 8.9m, an increase of 9.7pc on 2014, peaking at 10.7m in December 2015, while the app’s user base grew to over 208,000 highly engaged readers.  

The increase in digital advertising revenues was boosted by new initiatives like native content.

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