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Profits surge at regional news group Formpress

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‘The Leinster Leader’ is among the firm’s newspaper titles

‘The Leinster Leader’ is among the firm’s newspaper titles

‘The Leinster Leader’ is among the firm’s newspaper titles

Pre-tax profits at newspaper publisher Formpress Publishing last year rose by 29pc to €1.13m.

Formpress is a subsidiary of Iconic Newspapers, and the company operates 20 local news titles here, including 'The Limerick Leader', 'The Dundalk Democrat' and 'The Leinster Leader'.

Accounts show revenues at Formpress Publishing Ltd increased marginally to €12.23m from €12.21m in the 12 months to the end of March last. The group has been in acquisition mode since the end of last March.

Last April, it purchased the River Media group of titles - the 'Kildare Post', 'Donegal Post', 'Inish Times', 'Derry News' and 'County Derry Post'.

More recently, the group has purchased the 'Midland Tribune' and 'Tullamore Tribune'.

The directors stated that they were satisfied the results for the year were consistent with expected levels.

They added that for many businesses of this size, the industry continued to be challenging.

They said the company had developed an established place for itself within the market and would continue developments in this area.

Numbers employed by Formpress last year fell to 149 from 153, and staff costs decreased to €6.26m from €6.53m. Key management personnel were paid €1.258m.

Other Formpress titles include the 'Kilkenny People', 'Longford Leader', 'Leinster Express', 'Tipperary Star', 'Leitrim Observer', and 'The Nationalist' based in Clonmel. 'The Limerick Leader' is the group's flagship title and in the year under review, the title received a boost following Limerick's All-Ireland senior hurling win in September 2018. The issue after the win was a sell-out which resulted in a reprint of the souvenir supplement.

Formpress is 100pc owned by Iconic Newspapers, which paid Johnston Press €8.7m for the Irish titles in April 2014.

Iconic is controlled by British advertising executive Malcolm Denmark.

The profit takes account of combined non-cash depreciation and amortisation costs of €585,524 for the year.

The company's shareholder funds at the end of last March totalled €12.4m. Its cash pile increased sharply to €2.12m from €1.82m. Accumulated profits totalled €4.1m.

The amount paid by Mr Denmark for the titles is a fraction of Johnston Press's outlay for local newspapers during the boom.

Last December, the Competition and Consumer Protection Authority cleared the purchase by Formpress of the River Media group.

The authority formed the view that it would not substantially lessen competition in any market.

Group editorial director at Iconic Newspapers, Alan English, is to shortly take up his appointment as the new editor of the 'Sunday Independent'.

Irish Independent