Thursday 14 December 2017

'Irish Times' cuts losses in 2010

But paper is expected to lose money this year as it seeks a further €10m in savings

Peter Flanagan

'THE Irish Times' narrowed losses last year, but is expected to fall back into the red for 2011 as the company seeks €10m in savings.

Accounts just filed by The Irish Times Limited for the year ended December 31 , 2010, show the company made an operating loss before exceptional items of €633,341, down from €4.6m in 2009.

Turnover from continuing operations fell nearly 7pc to €85.9m.

The company made a total profit of €1.06m, mainly on the back of a one-off past service credit on the pension scheme of €5.1m. Despite the profit, the company said it expects to report a loss in 2011.

During the same period Independent News & Media recorded an operating profit of €87.9m, including a profit of €53.9 from its Irish operations for the same period.

Former editor Geraldine Kennedy was paid €319,000 during 2010, the same as the previous year. Ms Kennedy, who was replaced by Kevin O'Sullivan earlier this year, received a €250,000 ex-gratia payment in exchange for reduced pension rights.

The managing director's position -- Liam Kavanagh replaced Maeve Donovan in February 2010 -- was paid €300,000, down €19,000 on 2009.

Company chairman David Went's salary was unchanged at €87,000 plus director's fees of €9,347.

Newspaper advertising revenue fell 7.8pc, primarily on the slowdown in economic activity, the company said. Circulation revenue fell marginally during the year.

The number of staff was little changed at 509 but staff costs fell by nearly 10pc to €32.7m. The company's net cash fell nearly 15pc to around €11m.

"The cost base is under constant review as difficult trading conditions continue," the company said.

"'The Irish Times' continues to face significant challenges during 2011 due to difficulties facing the Irish economy and from structural changes in the media sector."

Those challenges were behind plans unveiled by the business to cut some 22 jobs as it seeks some €10m in savings over the next two years. The company wants to save €5m this year and €5m in 2012. Efforts to secure the savings are already at an advanced stage.


The paper believes it can save €2.6m in staff costs and €2m in "non-payroll expenses" such as contracts with suppliers and newsprint costs in 2011.

Under the savings plan, 10 editorial vacancies will not be filled, while an additional six redundancies will be sought. Another six staff at its print works in Citywest have already applied for redundancy.

'The Irish Times' had already begun a €2m savings process earlier this year but fewer people than expected had applied for redundancy under that scheme.

The projected loss this year has prompted this new round of savings as well as a "top-to-toe" reorganisation of the company and newspaper.

There will be a "full review" of the printed paper's content and changes will be made to it and the online operation so that they will "complement each other" in different ways with the aim of growing the readership of both.

Like many media outlets, 'The Irish Times' has struggled with declining newspaper sales, particularly among younger readers, while it is also looking at how to obtain additional revenue from its online operation.

The company has been mired in difficulties since previous MD Maeve Donovan implemented the now infamous investment and diversification strategy which saw the company buy the property website for €50m at the height of the property boom.

Irish Independent

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