Behind the annual figures from Archant, the Norwich-based regional publisher which show a 6.8% drop in 2006 operating profit to Â£29.5m, lies an interesting shift in their business. Expansion of their 75-strong local magazine business is replacing some of the fall in profits of their four daily and 85 weekly papers.
The figure shows the decline in profits slowing from the 12.3% drop, from Â£36m to 31.6m, in 2005.
In both years the smaller magazine and contract publishing business, which has been acquiring additional titles, saw substantial profit growth, nearly doubling in two years. Last year it was up by 37.3% from Â£5m to Â£6.1m. The previous year it was up 49.9% from Â£3.3m for to Â£5m.
While the Archant announcements are not detailed they indicate that the performance of the newspaper business is flattered by the groups headline figures.
In the latest statement Richard Dewson, chairman of Archant, talks of a “robust performance in challenging conditions”. He says the rate of decline in advertising revenues has slowed.
He also says continued investment in their online presence is encouraging with unique visitors up by 66% last year. In January this year they had nearly 1.2m unique visitors.