Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror) has published its first trading update since its acquisition of the Daily Express and Star from Northern & Shell at the end of February, with group revenues rising 11% over the 26 weeks to 1 July - versus a fall of 8% when the takeover assets are excluded.
These figures mask a deepening print crisis however with publishing revenue to fall by 8% and print collapsing by a further 10% with digital, long trailed as the publishers saviour, rising by just 1%.
This disappointing performance is borne out of a 19% decline in classified advertising, much of it upsold from print, with digital display and transactional revenues rising 7%.
Budget busting newsprint prices in the second half of the year are set to hit all publishers but Reach believes that new found economies of scale will help it to weather this storm better than most.
Simon Fox, chief executive, commented: “We have seen some improvement in May and June driven by stronger national print advertising. Following the welcome clearance by the Secretary of State, we will start the process of integrating Express & Star in order to accelerate the benefits that our combined scale will deliver.”
Since its acquisition through to the end of the latest trading period on 1 July Express & Star revenue is projected to fall by 3% on a like-for-like basis with print slipping 5% and digital growing by 25%.