Irish Times group records operating profit of €7.2m for 2020

Company to repay wage subsidy supports it received
Irish Times group records operating profit of €7.2m for 2020

Strong growth in subscriptions and home deliveries offset Covid impact on newspaper sales.

The Irish Times media group made an operating profit of €7.2m in 2020, recovering strongly in the second half of the year following the initial impact of the Covid pandemic.

Irish Times DAC, owners of the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, The Echo and other regional titles, saw turnover fall by 8% to €101m. 

However, significant cost savings were achieved through a 12% reduction in the cost of sales and a 6% cut in distribution and administrative costs.

While newspaper sales were impacted by restrictions, the group saw a 41% growth in digital subscriptions and the home delivery of papers. Digital revenues also grew by 20.3%. 

Along with an operating profit of €7.2m after exceptional items, the latest accounts for the Irish Times DAC show it finished the year with net cash of €24m and the board has agreed to repay the wage subsidy supports it received from the State.

Certain divisions within the group availed of the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS) and the subsequent employer wage subsidy scheme (EWSS) and the total amount received under the schemes was €3m. The group said it would pay any underpayments of tax liability arising for employees as a result of being in receipt of the subsidy.

Strong resilience

The group's managing director Liam Kavanagh said the sector had shown strong resilience following a difficult start to the year and every business unit within the group was profitable.

"From the first week or two of the pandemic, you really felt you were facing into the abyss. Shops were closing, advertising collapsed and the question was whether you would be able to sell any newspapers."

"However, it has been resilient with new readership in terms of subscriptions, strong weekend edition sales and a return of advertising revenues as the year. As result, it's proven to be a strong year."

Digital subscription model

In March of this year, the Irish Examiner introduced its own digital subscription model which Mr Kavanagh said now accounts for half of all the group's new subscriptions.

"There hasn't been a day that has passed we haven't added new subscribers. It's building very nicely. We have about 7,500 subscribers to the Irish Examiner through home delivery and digital subscriptions."

Majella Gallagher, managing director of the Irish Examiner and The Echo said staff across every department contributed to the success of the business.

"We are building our organisation to become more digitally focused so that we can provide better digital and mobile content for our readers and provide better online advertising solutions to our clients and customers," she said.

"2021 is a milestone year for the Irish Examiner. We celebrate our 180th anniversary. It is also the year that we launched our digital subscriber service. Across digital and in print, we now have more Irish Examiner readers than at any time in our history. A key focus is growing new digital revenue streams and we are thrilled with the early success of our paywall."

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