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Independent News & Media reports 14 per cent profit bump

The publisher of the Irish Independent says it expects earnings to improve this year, despite a tough advertising market.

Gavin O'Reilly, group CEO of Independent News & Media, said he was confident the investment in Independent.ie would reap dividends.
Gavin O'Reilly, group CEO of Independent News & Media, said he was confident the investment in Independent.ie would reap dividends.
Image: AHN YOUNG-JOON/AP

INDEPENDENT NEWS & MEDIA (INM) has reported a 14 per cent increase in its operating profit for the 2010 calendar year, saying it was confident that earnings would continue to improve over the coming year.

The group’s preliminary accounts for 2010 showed profits for the year ending December 2010 hit €87.9m, up from €77.2m recorded in the previous year, while revenues were up by around 3.3 per cent to over €605m.

The increased profit came in spite of a fall in advertising revenue – which accounts for 41 per cent of the group’s total incomings – while circulation revenue fell by 2 per cent.

The group also said the cost of physically printing its papers had increased in 2010, with the price of the newsprint paper increasing by around 20 per cent. That cost had, however, been absorbed by cost-cutting elsewhere in the group.

“Assuming more normalised advertising conditions, easier comparatives, continued cost vigilance and having eliminated loss-making businesses, we are targeting a further improvement in operating profit for the year,” chief executive Gavin O’Reilly said.

The figures do not reflect the period after the closure of the Irish Daily Star Sunday, in which INM was a 50 per cent shareholder, or the Sunday Tribune in which IN&M owned a 29.9 per cent stake.

Those papers were shut in January and February of this year, in what INM described as “a focus on eliminating  loss-making activities in what was a very crowded Sunday newspaper market in Ireland”.

The former editor of the latter title, Noirín Hegarty, has been given the title of online editor within the Irish Independent, with IN&M saying the website would undergo an “aggressive revelopment” in the coming months.

INM also announced this morning that it would launch an online coupon service, GrabOne.ie, in the second quarter of 2011 – a service intended to act as an Irish competitor to GroupOn, which operates in Ireland under the ‘citydeal.ie’ username.

INM’s Irish chief executive Joe Webb said GrabOne had been an “outstanding success” in its native Australasian market. A GrabOne.ie domain name is already operational, however, and is registered to a sole trader.

The GroupOn.ie domain name, ironically, is held by a holding company of the Irish Times, though the latter was last week ordered to relinquish control of the name.

INM has operations in a number of countries around the world, but sold its flagship Independent title in the UK to Russian investor Alexander Lebedev last year for £1 as the paper continued to mount significant losses.

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Gavan Reilly

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