Earnings: Guardian Digital Revenue Doubles As Classifieds Slide; Acquisitions Planned

From the Guardian Media Group’s (GMG) results … Digital revenue from display and recruitment ads at UK’s Guardian News & Media (GNM), the national newspaper division, grew 49 percent in the year ending April. GMG cited ABC figures showing the online division Guardian Unlimited’s base of unique visitors grew 19.7 percent over the year. But print circulation also increased 10 percent after large investments on redesign and color printing. GNM reduced its operating loss to £15.9 million ($32 million); overall, GMG increased profit from £45.9 million ($92 million) to £64.2 million ($130 million). CEO Carolyn McCall, in the annual report, said moving to 24/7 online publishing, “in some areas, will certainly mean fewer jobs” but said 50 new digital staff were taken on in the year with a further 100 planned next year.

The regional division, which publishes 20 newspapers and websites in the north of England and 19 around Surrey and Berkshire, was hit by “extremely challenging advertising market conditions” and “digital disruption to its revenue base”. In other words, the internet is still eating the classifieds, especially recruitment ads – while digital revenue grew 18.3 percent, regional print classifieds fell 11 percent. Car classifieds brand Auto Trader saw growth, however, with the website contributing more profit than the magazine for the first time ever and a six-fold increase in the number of sellers using the site, helping the Trader Media Group unit to a £104.6 million ($211 million) operating profit. GMG sold 49 percent of the group to Apax in March and will turn the £675 million ($1.7 billion) proceeds toward acquisitions “where we have the opportunity to be majority owners of operating companies”. McCall: “We continued to invest in digital when others, mindful of the short-term interests of shareholders, lost their nerve.”

Release | Annual report