Trinity Mirror profits fall following publisher’s digital hit

PROFITS at Trinity Mirror tumbled by 75 per cent last year after the newspaper group took a £60 million hit on the value of its digital businesses.

The owner of the Daily Mirror and Daily Record, and a host of local papers, posted a pre-tax profit of £18.9m for 2012 on turnover 7 per cent lower at £706.5m.

Excluding the diminished value of its recruitment and property websites – which are no longer expected to achieve market shares previously anticipated – operating profits were 2.5 per cent higher at £107.1m.

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Chief executive Simon Fox, the former HMV boss who joined Trinity Mirror last September, said it was a “robust financial performance” in what continues to be a challenging market. “Trading is expected to remain difficult throughout 2013 with revenues expected to continue to show year-on-year declines and month-on-month volatility,” he said.

The current year started slowly, with revenues in January and February down 13 per cent against the same period in 2012. The rate of decline for March is expected to slow to about 7 per cent, which is “more reflective of the underlying trends”.

Comparisons were distorted by the launch of the Sunday edition of the Sun in February 2012. News International’s return to the Sunday market is estimated to account for about £12m of last year’s £54.2m of revenues lost by Trinity Mirror.

In terms of circulation, the Daily Mirror fell by just 6.6 per cent – less than the overall market decline of 8.3 per cent – while sales of the Daily Record were 9.5 per cent lower at 276,000.

With digital revenues contributing less than 6 per cent to group sales, Fox admitted that this aspect of operations was “far from satisfactory”.