Celtic Media, owned by Scottish newspaper group Dunfermline Press, acquired the Chronicle from the Davis family for €30 million in December 2002.
No comparison of previous year’s profits are given as Celtic Media was only incorporated in December 2002. However, it was reported at the time of the sale that the Chronicle had made a profit of around €1 million the year before it was sold.
According to accounts just filed at the Companies Registration Office, the newspaper had a turnover of €12.2 million, and based on previously reported numbers, this would be an increase on the figure before the newspaper was acquired.
For the year to end December 2003, Celtic Media made an operating profit of €2.04 million, but a hefty interest charge reduced retained profits to €388,494.
The company’s balance sheet reveals it to be in a much healthier position with cash of e4.4 million in the bank and shareholders’ funds of over €8 million.
The Meath Chronicle built a new printing press just prior to its acquisition by Dunfermline and long-term debt of €22 million would indicate that it still has to pay off a large portion of the costs.
Staff costs for the year were €3.7 million. The company employed 114 people, giving an average annual salary of around €32,500. The accounts also show that the five directors were paid €273,043 in fees.
Celtic Media and Dunfermline Press are headed by Dublin-born Deirdre Romanes. In January of this year it purchased the Anglo Celt newspaper for around €15 million and in May paid out €20 million for the Westmeath Examiner Group, publishers of the Westmeath and Offaly Independents.
The Dunfermline Press Group has been owned by the Romanes family since 1859 and publishes five regional newspapers in Scotland.