Reach reports ‘unprecedented demand’ online, yet hit by April ad slump

Posted on: May 7, 2020 by admin

The publisher of the Mirror and Express newspapers has revealed it will accelerate plans for digital engagement, after announcing revenue has fallen by 30.5 per cent under April’s lockdown. 

Reach CEO Jim Mullen today (May 7) announced the company will be pushing its plans to capture key customer insight data in line with its digital strategy.

The newsgroup, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, reported April’s print revenue was reduced by 31.8 per cent and digital revenues by 22.5 per cent. As with other news publishers, Reach has experienced a slump in advertising revenue both in its national operations as well as the some 150 regional newspapers and websites.

However, the company reported an ‘unprecedented demand’ for news on its digital platforms – with a total 1.7bn page views in April, which equates to a year-on-year rise of 57 per cent.

In a trading update, chief executive Jim Mullen said an accelerated strategy would ensure a strong and sustainable future for Reach’s trusted news brands.

Reach has already cut costs to combat the decline in revenue, with a fifth of its employees on the government furlough scheme and has implemented pay cuts of 10 per cent to those not furloughed. Board and senior staff have taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

The company said in a statement: “The group has seen declines in circulation sales, falls in print advertising revenue at a national and local level, reduced printing requirements from third parties, impacts from cancelled events and a reduction in digital yields due to lower advertising demand.

“While in some areas we have recently seen a stabilisation in trends, circulation remains significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels and advertising remains very challenging and uncertain, with regional advertising particularly impacted.”

In the four months up to April 26, sales had dropped 13.1 per cent, with print revenues down 15.8 per cent. However, it did report digital sales were up 4.7 per cent for that period.

Mullen added: “Our priority in this crisis has been to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and I would like to thank all of them for the positive way they have responded throughout this process.

“Our teams continue to focus on producing the award-winning journalism and content that is so valued by our customers at this critical time. We continue to build on our position as the UK’s largest commercial national and regional news publisher.”

Today, broadcaster ITV also announced cuts to its budget as it reported a drastic fall in advertising revenue due to the crisis.

Fifteen per cent of ITV’s workforce have been placed on the government furlough scheme as the broadcaster reported a 40 per cent fall in advertising revenue.

ITN, the news producer for ITV, announced in April it would furlough around 20 employees and its CEO Anna Mallett was to take a 20 per cent pay cut, along with chief operating officer David Conway.

It said that frontline news staff would not be affected.