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Spectator returns furlough money to Treasury as Covid impact not as bad as feared

Posted on: June 2, 2020 by Mariella Brown

The Spectator has announced it is returning furlough money to the Treasury because the economic impact of Covid-19 was not as great as the magazine had initially feared.

Subscriptions have continued to rise strongly during the coronavirus crisis, according to a statement by the chairman of the Spectator, Andrew Neil.

But the magazine did acknowledge that some parts of its business have been badly hit – citing revenue lines from events, newsstands sales and advertising.

“We have taken a financial hit but nothing as bad as I feared. We remain a profitable and growing company, now with strengthening cash flow. For that reason, we will return to the taxpayer the funds we took from government to finance our furlough scheme and withdraw from that scheme forthwith,” Neil said.

Andrew Neil, presenter of the eponymous BBC politics show and Politics Live, added that many businesses will not be in the same fortunate position and did not expect to set an example for other companies to do so.

“It transpired that, contrary to our earlier fears, we did not need the furlough money to survive”.

The publication has now been tasked with growing sales of The Spectator from 87,000 (reached in the first quarter of this year) to 100,000 ‘as quickly as possible’. Neil said he was confident they will meet the target, with the magazine’s paid-for circulation already higher than any point in its 192-year publishing history.

He added, “For those of us in a position to do so, growing our business out of the crisis seems preferable to depending on government subvention.”

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