today reported revenues during 2009 were down 19.5% to £428 million, a reduction of £103.9 million on 2008, reflecting the continued decline in advertising revenues, particularly in the early part of the year.
Ad revenues were down by £96.4 million, 26% year-on-year. The most badly affected areas were classified ads for jobs and property. Although property did show growth in November and December, as did motoring classifieds for December.
The decline in revenues is reflected in the a 41% fall in operating profit to £71.8 million. This profit level represents an operating margin of 16.8% which the company says has largely been achieved by further substantial cost savings being made across the Group.
The pre-tax loss for the year was £113.8 million, with a pre-tax profit of £43.3 million relating to trading before nonrecurring items. Net debt at 31 December 2009 was £422.1 million, down from £477.3 million at the beginning of the year.
John Fry, chief executive said:“The year ended with the Group in a much stronger position than it began: advertising is more stable; circulation trends have improved; digital revenues are growing; our cost base has reduced significantly and we have renegotiated finance facilities for 3 years.
"We are therefore well positioned to take advantage of any upturn as it occurs. Since the successful refinancing of our debt announced at the end of August 2009 we have been trading in line with the expectations we had at the time. That being the case we have no immediate plans to raise capital”
The company says it is increasingly looking to develop collaborative ventures with partners, particularly in the digital field, and a number of projects are underway. "Users of our digital services continued to grow markedly during 2009 and the challenge for us now is to enhance the revenues from this increasing audience reach."
The company has confirmed that Freddie Johnston is to leave the board.
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