Irish Times Group records €2.9m profit as revenues and costs increase

Energy and newsprint costs have risen three-fold
Irish Times Group records €2.9m profit as revenues and costs increase

Michael Sheehan, Managing Director of The Irish Examiner and The Echo and Chief Financial Officer of The Irish Times Group: We saw strong growth in subscriptions with the bounce in IT subscribers in 2020 due to Covid restrictions carrying through into 2021.

A 22% growth in digital subscription revenues helped the Irish Times Group record an operating profit of €2.9m last year.

New accounts show Irish Times DAC, owners of the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, The Echo, and other regional titles, record turnover of €107.5m, a 6.4% increase compared to 2020.

The media company said that despite a challenging start to the financial year, Group performance in 2021 returned to more normal trading conditions after the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

The company said a continued focus on acquiring new subscribers has delivered an additional 8% volume growth during the year with total subscriber numbers standing at 136,653 at the end of the year. Print circulation revenues saw a drop of 1.2% but were offset by price increases. The Irish Examiner introduced a subscription model in March 2021. The company ended the year with net cash of €23.7m.

Last year, the company also repaid €2.6m to Revenue of payments it received in 2020 under the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS) and employer wages subsidy scheme (EWSS).

Michael Sheehan, Chief Financial Officer of The Irish Times DAC said the group's overall performance last year was ahead of where they thought they would be.

"We saw strong growth in subscriptions with the bounce in IT subscribers in 2020 due to Covid restrictions carrying through into 2021. The roll-out of a subscription model by the Irish Examiner last year has also been a notable success, with more than 16,000 readers paying to access our content."

"The business has also been significantly impacted by inflation and the rising cost of living. Paper prices have risen sharply due to a reduction in capacity at paper mills and pulp, material, and transport cost increases worldwide.

"Our energy costs and the price of newsprint have both risen three-fold in the past year and a half. It remains a significant challenge going forward along with the rising cost of living which impacts digital and advertising revenues."

"These results are ultimately the result of the incredible impact by our staff across the group during Covid and as we came out of the pandemic. We continue to invest in quality journalism and while advertising fell off a cliff in 2020 we have seen a strong return. Many brands want to use print to get their message across. They want a trusted source."

The company recently appointed The Irish Times'former Deputy Editor Deirdre Veldon as its new Managing Director taking over the role from Paul Mulvaney while in October, Ruadhán Mac Cormaic was appointed the new editor of The Irish Times.

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