Reach 2019 revenue down but profit up in first full year since buying Express and Star

First results since chief executive Jim Mullen joined in August, replacing Simon Fox.

Mullen: 2019 saw record growth in audience numbers
Mullen: 2019 saw record growth in audience numbers

Reach, owner of the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, has reported a 3% revenue fall to £792.5m for its 2019 financial year, with adjusted pre-tax profit up 6.1% to £150.6m.

While on a like-for-like basis, total revenue fell 5.3% during the 52 weeks ending 29 December 2019, it marked an improvement on 2018’s 6.6% decline. The group attributed the improvement to "resilient" circulation revenue and stronger digital growth.

Accordingly, digital like-for-like revenue growth was 13.2% over the year, and up 16.4% in the second half. Average worldwide monthly page views grew by 25% to 1.3 billion, and again saw a marked improvement in the second half (up 34%).

Adjusted operating profit was up 5.4% to £153.4m, from £145.6m in 2018.

The group, which also owns titles including national tabloids Sunday Mirror and Daily Star, Scotland's Daily Record and magazine OK!, said it was continuing to perform in line with management expectations in 2020 and was confident of continuing progress through the year.

Jim Mullen, Reach’s recently arrived chief executive, said that its results built a strong foundation on which to "invest and innovate".

"2019 was a year of good operational and solid financial progress with record growth in audience numbers, consistently good cash generation and a strong balance sheet. This, along with unparalleled scale, underpins our drive to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term while continuing to deliver for our stakeholders."

He added that content was core to a "new customer value strategy we are announcing today".

"We have an unmatched reach in UK media and will deepen our relationships via increased customer engagement," he said.

"Through this, we see significant potential to accelerate the diversification of our digital revenue and capture more value to deliver on our sustainable digital growth ambitions."

Last month, Reach embarked on a major recruitment drive to boost its hyperlocal InYourArea news platform, with a investment creating 57 jobs, including 43 new commercial roles aimed at drawing in more advertisers.

Reach was previously known as Trinity Mirror, but rebranded in 2018 following the acquisition of the Express.

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