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The famous Irish Times clock, hanging outside the paper's previous headquarters on D'Olier St. Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

Irish Times records pre-tax losses despite increase in turnover

Accounts for The Irish Times Ltd also show a significant increase in the pensions deficit at the newspaper publisher.

THE COMPANY behind the Irish Times has reported a return to operating profit for 2011, according to accounts filed at the Companies Registration Office.

The Irish Times Limited reported a profit of €2.5 million before exceptional items, up from €0.6 million in 2010, based on an increase in group turnover to €90.9 million and a significant fall in its administrative expenses.

The group also incurred an exceptional charge of €3 million as a result of a restructuring programme which involved considerable layoffs, however.

The accounts show that the group spent almost €3.9 million on an internal reorganisation – with the costs largely coming through redundancy costs, as staff numbers fell from 509 to 462 – and wrote down the value of investments by €754,000.

When interest and other charges were included, the company ran a pre-tax loss of €1.14 million, and a post-tax loss of €1.9 million.

The accounts also show that the deficit at the company’s defined benefit pension scheme rose by €15.3 million – which directors attribute to an increase in its liabilities due to a reduction in bond yields. The effects of this were mitigated, however, by securing a special ‘Section 50′ pensions status from the Pensions Board.

The company’s cash balances fell by 10.8 per cent to €10.3 million.

The directors’ report accompanying the accounts say the company “continues to face a challenging economic environment” and that it would continue to reduce its cost base, but that it was “well placed to participate in an economic recovery”.

The size of the deficit in the pensions scheme is listed as a principal risk to the company, however, with directors noting that its deficit is significant relative to the size of the company.

Advertising revenue at the Irish Times newspaper fell by 4.1 per cent across 2011, though the report said the rate of decline had eased over the year, and that the paper had retained its share of the market. Continued deterioration of the advertising market is also listed as a corporate risk.

The accounts also reveal that current Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan is paid significantly less than his predecessor Geraldine Kennedy; the editor’s salary of €319,000 per annum earned by Kennedy, prior to her retirement in June 2011,  was cut by 31 per cent to O’Sullivan’s current level of €220,000.

Similarly, current deputy editor Denis Staunton is paid €150,000, a cut of €20,000 from the salary of his predecessor Paul O’Neill who earned €170,000 per annum up until his departure in July of last year.

Read: Latest figures show continued fall in Irish newspaper sales

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