Monday 16 July 2018

INM plans 'significant' investment as it eyes switch to online subscription model

Independent House in Dublin
Independent House in Dublin
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Independent News & Media (INM) is to make a significant investment in the company as it shifts to a subscription model for online content over the next two to three years.

Development of the new model will include investing in new content and products as it focuses on audiences in niche sectors and specific geographic locations, said chief executive Michael Doorly, after the company announced results last week.

"We are in a subscription era. Younger people are willing to pay for content they see as relevant and of value," he said. "We are going to have to specialise into certain verticals, niches really, be they geographical or subject matter."

Doorly also said the media group planned to invest part of its €91.5m cash balance back into its newspaper titles.

"The newspapers are profitable. Every single title makes a contribution," he said.

Overall, the company will make a 'significant investment' to reshape the business and deliver on a new strategic plan, which it is developing with consultants EY.

INM is the country's leading media group, publishing titles including the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent and independent.ie.

On Friday, INM reported a profit before tax of €28.5m for 2017, on sales of €293m. The latest financial results show net exceptional charges of €12.1m in 2017.

That included a charge of €1.5m relating to a severance payment to former chief executive Robert Pitt, who resigned last October following a long-running boardroom row.

The company booked a €12.7m impairment charge in relation to the Belfast Telegraph masthead.

INM has recently appointed four new non-executive directors, including UK media veteran Murdoch MacLennan - who was elected chairman by the new board this week.

"These appointments bring a wealth of experience and expertise in the media industry and the wider corporate world, further strengthening and supporting INM's board to ensure the Group is equipped to meet the demands of the rapidly changing industry," the company said.

The results showed profits down 31.8pc compared to 2016. Total revenues fell 9.4pc. INM said reduced profits were primarily due to continued revenue challenges and increased libel and legal costs. Operating costs also fell by 6.2pc, while net assets increased by €13.8 to €76.1m. The directors are not proposing a dividend for 2017.

Sunday Indo Business

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