Reach CFO departs, Queen’s mourning hits revenue
Record and Express owner Reach has announced that Simon Fuller, group chief financial officer, is leaving the company by mutual agreement.
In a statement, the company said Reach and Mr Fuller “have mutually agreed that it is an appropriate time for Simon to step down and move on to new challenges.”
He leaves at the end of December following a period of gardening leave and will be replaced by Darren Fisher who joins from ITV where he was group director of finance and has been responsible for all group finance functions and operations.
Additionally he is divisional CFO for the media & entertainment division, which contains the UK broadcast business as well as ITV’s digital offerings (ITV Hub, ITVX). He has been in this role since 2020. Previously he served as director of finance for Micro Focus and Sage.
The change coincides with a trading update for the three months to 25 September which showed how the withdrawal of advertising during the mourning period for the Queen cancelled out revenue from additional print sales.
Digital revenue for the period was up 1.1%, but fell 8.1% in September due to an industry wide reduction in advertising spend following the passing of the Queen.
Print revenue for the period declined by only 2.9%. Circulation revenues were up by 2.0% following recent price increases, with volumes responding as anticipated.
Circulation in September was up 4.3% reflecting a material one-off uplift, The Express and The Mirror growing aggregate volumes by around 30% on the day following the death of the Queen and the day after the funeral. This upside was more than offset by an associated reduction in print advertising, which was down by 17% in July and August, but 32.2% in September.
Given all the above, the estimated overall net effect (print and digital) on trading for September was around a 5% reduction in revenue.
July and August were more indicative of underlying revenue performance: print down 2.8%, digital up 5.9%.
Reach said it expects circulation revenues to be supported by increased cover prices, while advertising revenue should benefit from Black Friday, Christmas and from the football World Cup which starts in November.
Jim Mullen chief executive said: “The strength of our balance sheet underpins ongoing investment in the strategy, as we continue to transition to an increasing mix of higher quality digital earnings.”