Monday 18 December 2017

Profits grow at INM as advertising market picks up

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

INDEPENDENT News & Media, the owner of this website and Ireland’s best-selling daily and Sunday newspapers, said first-half profit more than doubled to €14m as advertising picked up, sales stabilised and readership of the company’s internet sites surged.

INM said net profit after exceptional costs doubled to €14m in the first six months of the year from €6.9m in the same period last year while total revenues were little changed at €157.8m.

Digital advertising grew 30pc to €3.9m while newspaper advertising enjoyed a good first-half thanks to rising demand for recruitment ads, property and inserts.

Advertising trends often reflect the broader economy; spending on advertising fell after the financial crisis but appears to be picking up as the broader economy recovers. INM has also benefited from stringent cost cutting and a debt reduction programme that has slashed the company’s debts.

“Our market-leading titles are well positioned to benefit from the expected return to growth in the Irish domestic economy,” said chairman Leslie Buckley. “A further significant cost restructuring programme is now being implemented across the group, in order to maintain group profitability.”

INM’s improving fortunes come as the company continues to cut costs and prepares for the arrival of new chief executive Robert Pitt. A new editorial system has been rolled out across titles while the digital strategy has also been introduced at the ‘Herald’ and ‘Sunday World’ newspapers.

Robert Pitt, the incoming INM chief executive
Robert Pitt, the incoming INM chief executive

“Robert’s business background in retail and his change management experience make him an ideal person to lead INM into the next phase of its development,” Mr Buckley said.

The company’s websites are drawing more visitors and they are staying on the site for longer. Digital sales are soaring. more than doubled the number of monthly unique visits to 9.2m in July.

In addition, there were half a billion page impressions in the eight months to end August 2014.

The country’s most popular news website is benefiting from a redesign and extra video content as well as new technology to help readers to access news on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

Around 45pc of readers now view the site this way.

INM now operates a “digital first’ strategy to ensure that almost all news appears on the website first thanks to a beefed-up digital hub which takes stories from all titles and then publishes them on the site.

"In Northern Ireland, the website attracted 3.4 million unique visits in July, a 45pc year-on-year increase," he added.

"We also purchased RecruitNI, strengthening our position in the important Northern Ireland online recruitment market. Digital presents a substantial opportunity for INM and is key to the future of the business."

The company’s newspaper titles are also gaining market share. The Irish Independent dominates the quality daily newspaper market with an ABC sales of 112,383 while the Sunday Independent has extended its share of the Sunday market with a recorded an ABC sales of 220,565. The Herald dominates the Dublin market while the Sunday World is the best-selling Sunday tabloid.

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