The Express & Star has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving for Reach this Christmas after the publisher revealed that expected ‘synergy savings’ accruing from its acquisition are now expected to weigh in at £3m for 2018 - £1m higher than thought as recently as October.
This positive financial position was further accentuated by a 23% jump in group revenue for the fourth quarter, although this marked a 5% decline when measured on a like-for-like basis excluding the distorting effects of the Express and Star.
More worryingly both circulation and publishing print advertising revenues continue to fall unchecked, declining by a further 4% and 15% respectively on a like-for like basis. The company also claimed that digital revenue should grow by 5% with display and transactional revenue rising by 8%.
Chief executive Simon Fox remarked: “I am pleased with the improved trading in the final quarter. This coupled with continued tight management of the business provides me with confidence that performance for the year is expected to be marginally ahead of expectations. We head into 2019 having made good progress with the integration of Express & Star and with clear plans in place for driving digital growth in the year ahead.”
Through 2018 Reach has continued to make inroads into its large debt pile, selling off vacant properties in Cardiff and Liverpool to help bring net debt down from £81m at the half-year point to just £55m now.
In a bid to diversify away from print Reach has partnered with the Jockey Club to hold a series of high-profile racecourse running events.