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Pitts to leave STV as new growth plan unveiled

Simon Pitts
Leaving: Simon Pitts

STV chief executive Simon Pitts is stepping down from his role to take up a new appointment early next year.

Until his departure to an undisclosed role he will remain focused on the delivery of the company’s strategy and targets and on ensuring the effective transition of his responsibilities, said the board which has begun the search for a successor.

The announcement came as STV unveiled a new three-year strategy to double Studios revenues to £140m and digital revenues by a further 50% to £30m. It said it wants to increase international revenues to 15% of Group and 25% of Studios. It is targeting a further £5m per annum savings in its cost base.

Results for the year to the end of December show a shift in focus with 75% of profit coming from outside traditional broadcasting, well ahead of its 50% target.

Group revenue grew 22% to £168.4m but total advertising fell 12% to £97.3m and adjusted operating profit was down 22% to £20.1m.

Studios and Digital growth more than offset expected linear advertising revenue declines. Studios revenue soared 182% to £66.8m, while digital revenue was 6% higher at £20.2m. Bu contrast, regional advertising revenue was 9% lower at £15.1m.

The board proposes a final dividend of 7.4p per share for 2023, giving a full year dividend of 11.3p per share, in line with 2022, after considering all relevant factors including ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty.

Speaking about the departure of Mr Pitts, chairman Paul Reynolds said: “Simon has been an outstanding leader of STV over the past six years.  As the architect of our diversification strategy, he has successfully led the transformation of STV from a linear broadcaster into a resilient content creation and digital streaming business with an exciting future.”

Mr Pitts said: “It has been a huge privilege to lead STV. Since 2018 we have become the most-watched peaktime TV channel in Scotland and retained that position for five years in a row, transformed STV Player into a high-growth streaming service, and created one of the UK’s leading TV production groups, and we have today set out further ambitious growth plans for the future.

“With STV’s latest diversification targets fully achieved, now is the right time to plan a smooth and orderly succession.

“Our leadership team is very strong, our strategy is clear and it’s delivering. Our STV colleagues are doing a fantastic job producing world class programmes, news and digital & commercial products every day of the year, staying ahead of the competition and creating strong foundations for the future.

“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to Paul, former chair Margaret Ford and the rest of the Board, as well as all my STV colleagues for their unstinting support, drive and creativity over six extremely enjoyable years.”

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