Shortlist Media claims revenue bounceback following £4.7m loss

The publisher of Shortlist and Stylist magazines is set for an improved performance this year, following a drop in revenues and profits in the previous 12 months.

Shortlist Media chief executive Ella Dolphin
Shortlist Media chief executive Ella Dolphin

Accounts filed at Companies House last month show the company was hit by an 8% drop in revenues to £22.6m in the year to 31 March 2017, resulting in a £4.7m pre-tax loss for the period.

However, chief executive Ella Dolphin told Campaign that revenues were expected to return to growth in the current financial year, ending 31 March 2018, and losses to halve.

Dolphin stressed that the company is investing to adapt to a declining print advertising market rather than cutting costs. "We are not cutting our way to profit. We are in year one of a three-year transformation plan to deliver growth," she said.

Last year’s loss was the first since Shortlist Media was acquired in early 2015 by Scottish publisher DC Thomson, which spent £10.4m to raise its stake from 50% to 100%.

Changes since the acquisition have included Dolphin’s hiring from Hearst in 2016 to develop its offer in events, online content and branded content.

Such investment saw costs rise by 8% to £19.4m for the year ending March 2017, although there were other contributing factors. "The cost base was hugely swung adversely by the liquidation of the printers Polestar in the UK, which meant nearly a million magazines a week were being printed in Germany and transported back to the UK," Dolphin said.

This financial year, Dolphin added, revenues will return to growth as a result of the new areas it has been developing offsetting print declines. She cited a £500,000 additional contribution to the top line by Stylist magazine’s November event Stylist Live in its third year compared to its second.