Herald reports drop in its pre-tax profits

THE owner of The Herald newspaper – and sister titles, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times – has announced a large drop in its pre-tax profits.

Reported The Herald last week, pre-tax profit last year at Newsquest (Herald & Times) was £9.58 million, down from £14.4 million, even after a saving of £3.4 million in staffing costs.

After-tax profits fell from £13.9 million to £6.64 million but this reflected a rise in a tax charge from £570,000 to £2.95 million.

And it has emerged that the number of employees last year was 117 less than in 2008 – down to 614 from 731.

Staff costs dropped from £28.2 million to £24.8 million.

The paper’s Ian McConnell also reports that turnover fell from £79.5 million in 2008 to £63.1 million last year.

McConnell further reports that company says that the gradual recovery in the economy is expected to have a positive impact on revenues, while adding  that there remains uncertainty about the timing and extent of growth.

Newsquest (Herald & Times) managing director, Tim Blott, is quoted, saying: “2009 saw our profits nearly halved on the previous year with continuing pressure on newspaper advertising revenue, particularly in the public sector.

“We reduced costs where we could and I am grateful to staff for their continuing commitment. 2010 is proving equally challenging but we are seeing some upturn in our printing, magazines and internet divisions.”

Exceptional restructuring costs last year amounted to £304,000 compared with £2.28 million in 2008. Interest receivable fell from £2.1 million to £459,000.

As well as the newspaper titles, Newsquest (Herald & Times) owns Scottish jobs web-site s1 and a magazines division which includes the Scottish Farmer and The Great Outdoors.

The US-owned company, which is based in Glasagow, also has a printing business, which handles not only its own titles but also a raft of external contracts.