INM set for further growth after 'transformational' year, chairman Leslie Buckley
Shareholders attending company AGM today told of growth in digital and improved advertising in second half
A transformational year has primed media group Independent News & Media for future growth following a successful capital and financial restructuring, chairman Leslie Buckley told shareholders at its annual general meeting today.
The sale of the South African business, a restructuring of debt and pension scheme and a €40m capital raise were some of the main developments in 2013, he added.
“2013 was a transformational year for INM, which culminated in a net debt figure of €95.3m at the end of the year," he said.
"This is less than a quarter of the €422.4m debt at the outset of 2013."
Last year, INM reported an operating profits of €32.7m, in line with the previous year.
The year also marked a 12pc increase in digital revenues to just under €10m.
However, in the year-to-date this growth has hiked to 17.8pc.
"We have a clear focus for our digital offering and have invested in the recruitment of the right talent, the quality of our content and delivery to various digital platforms," Mr Buckley said.
"We now have over 7 million unique visitors per month which is 63pc up on this time last year."
There has also been an improvements in print revenue in the second half of the year, despite a decrease earlier.
"Notwithstanding the investment in digital, we strongly believe in newspapers and we continue to drive our excellent portfolio of national newspaper titles, namely, The Irish Independent, The Herald, The Sunday World, The Sunday Independent, the Irish Daily Star, The Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life as well as our suite of regional titles.
"These titles continue to draw huge audiences with their dominant market positions."
He added that there is a continued clear focus in INM to support our print offering, invest in and grow digital and to carefully control costs.
"Your board and management are fully committed to driving INM forward under those headings.”
Other highlights during the year included a significant drop in operating costs with the interest bill reduced from €21m in 2013 to €6m for this year.