Guardian Media Group has reported a 2% jump in revenues, supported by a 15% boost in digital revenues and a 360% increase in its paying members which now equal 230,000.
The publisher of the Guardian and Sunday paper the Observer appears to be on track to reach its goal of 1 million subscribers by April 2019, a target David Magliano, managing director, membership, marketing and consumer revenue revealed earlier in the year.
The membership coupled with the publishing group’s 185,000 subscribers means the total number of paying readers to the Guardian now sits at more than 400,000. It claims “more people are paying for Guardian journalism than ever before”.
The publishing group also reduced its operating losses by more than a third (35%) for the financial year ended 2 April 2017, reporting a £44.7m loss.
During the year, GMG reduced its costs by £19m to £259.2m, and reduced headcount by approximately 300 roles.
It called the moves “painful though necessary”. The cost-cutting drive forms part of the Guardian’s three-year plan to break even at an operating level, which includes a 20% overall reduction in its cost base by restructuring less profitable parts of the business.
Last month’s announcement that it would be shifting from Berliner format to tabloid and outsourcing its print operations to Trinity Mirror from early 2018 is further evidence of its need to cut costs.
The group also completed the sale of its 22.4% stake in Cannes Lions-owner Ascential for a total of £239m. The value of the group's investments and cash holdings now sit at £1.03bn.
David Pemsel, chief executive officer, Guardian Media Group, said the three-year strategy is "well on track to achieve its financial goals and to secure the future of the Guardian".
Total revenues for the year hit £214.5m, a 2% increase from last year. Mobile and app revenue, digital subscriptions and memberships, one-off reader contributions and foundation grant revenue helped lift digital revenues to £94.1m, up 15%.
The publishing group did not report its print revenues, but in the most recent ABCs, the Observer posted an 8.6% month-on-month increase in June (-5.9% year-on-year), while the Guardian posted a month-on-month increase of 3.8% (-7.4 year-on-year).
Neil Berkett, chair of GMG, added: “This set of results is a testament to the hard work of the management team and of everyone at Guardian Media Group. There is much to do, but the strategy is on track.
“The successful disposal of our remaining shares in Ascential means that the business has a clearer focus and more secure financial base from which to complete our three-year strategy and ensure that we continue to create world-class Guardian journalism in perpetuity.”