Independent News & Media revealed plans to expand its online publishing division with the launch of GrabOne, an online coupon service to rival Groupon’s CityDeal service in Ireland. The company’s operating profits rose 14pc in 2010.
The group reported profits of €87.9m for 2010, up from €77.2m a year earlier. Revenues rose 3.3pc to more than €605m.
The strong results came amidst tough trading conditions for the newspaper industry locally and globally. Advertising revenues for the group were down 2pc (in euro terms) while circulation was up 2pc (in euro terms). The newspaper group reduced operating costs by 3.6pc.
In the last two months, part of the group’s focus on eliminating loss-making activities saw the closure of the Sunday Tribune and the Irish Daily Star Sunday.
Indo beefs up online resources
This year’s results were marked by significant developments in Independent News & Media’s online publishing division.
From an online news perspective, former Sunday Tribune editor Noreen Hegarty has been appointed online editor for Ireland and her job will be to spearhead the redevelopment of Independent.ie.
In the second quarter, the group will launch a new online jobs portal in conjunction with Stepstone that will combine all of the group’s job boards. Stepstone is part of ‘The Network’ which is made up of 49 job boards across 136 countries.
Independent News & Media has also signed heads of agreement to acquire a 50pc stake in Carsireland.ie, which it claims is the fastest-growing car sales site in Ireland. The acquisition will be completed next month.
“The last year has been hugely significant for INM,” explained group CEO Gavin O’Reilly.
“After an extremely difficult 2009, we achieved what we said we were going to achieve in 2010. We recorded growth in underlying group revenue and good growth in EBITDA. Importantly, we reduced our core net debt by 17.5pc or more than €100m.
“The deconsolidation of APN allows for greater transparency and clarity in evaluating the very strong fundamentals of the group.
“Advertising conditions remain challenging and, while visibility remains short, we are not anticipating any material advertising uplift in 2011. Assuming more normalised advertising conditions, easier comparatives, continued cost vigilance and having eliminated loss-making businesses, we are targeting a further improvement in operating profit for the year. This, coupled with accelerated free cash flow generation, will ensure further, meaningful deleveraging in 2011,” O’Reilly said.