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Group profits surge

Trinity hails Local World contribution

Simon Fox: 'No regrets' (pic: Terry Murden)

Simon Fox: ‘No regrets’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Newspaper group Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Record and Scottish Business Insider, said it has benefited from the acquisition of Local World and tight control of costs.

Group half-yearly adjusted pre-tax profit rose 42.3% and group revenue increased 29.9% to £374.7m, although like-for-like revenue fell by 7.8%.

The  £220 million Local World deal made it the UK’s largest regional news outlet and the acquisition more than offset losses incurred by the group’s failed national daily New Day, which closed in May.

It had hoped to sell about 200,000 copies a day, but sales slumped to about 40,000 after just nine weeks. Trinity reportedly spent £5m promoting the title which retailed initially for 25p and latterly for 50p.

Group chief executive Simon Fox, said: “I am pleased we delivered another strong performance despite the challenging print environment.

“We are already seeing the benefits from our acquisition of Local World last year and continue to tightly manage the cost base across the group.”

Mr Fox said this morning that “Local World brought with it sales and profits and a huge number of respected titles”.

The figures show Trinity has squeezed £12m in costs out of the business. There has been criticism among journalists that long-standing titles are being run on skeleton staff working as many as 12 days without a break and that the papers are no longer providing the same level of local content.

Mr Fox, who recently told guests at a dinner in Edinburgh that he had “no regrets” about launching New Day, said the company’s focus was on digital, as “there may well be a time when there are no papers”.

But he repeated his message in Edinburgh by saying: “I hope and think papers have a long life ahead of them – at least 10 years.”

Local World was formed from a merger in 2012 of Daily Mail & General Trust’s Northcliffe Media, and Iliffe News & Media. The takeover means that Trinity Mirror now publishes more than 200 titles.

Trinity’s interim dividend has been increased by 5% from 2p to 2.1p per share and the company unveiled a £10m share buyback, equivalent to about 5% of its market capitalisation.

It said it would also pay a minimum of £5m on extra pension contributions after revealing the pension deficit increased by £120.8m to £426m (£349.5 million net of deferred tax) driven by a fall in long term interest rates.

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