Advertising and distribution setbacks drag on US profits at publisher Future

City A.M. Reporter
NICHE publisher Future saw profits plunge over the past year after it was plagued by distribution problems in the US and freefalling advertising revenues.<br /><br />Future, whose magazines and websites range from computer gaming to cycling, said yesterday that adjusted pre-tax profit fell 41 per cent to &pound;7.6m over the year to September, down from &pound;12.9m last year.<br /><br />Revenue from the group&rsquo;s 180 titles, websites and events was six per cent lower at &pound;153.1m.<br /><br />Chief executive Stevie Spring said the group&rsquo;s US business had contributed to most of the decline after a damaging dispute between wholesalers and distributors and problems with advertising.<br /><br />But she added that the UK, which accounts for 70 per cent of revenue, held up remarkably robustly, posting a five per cent earnings jump despite falling advertising takings. <br /><br />&ldquo;We are seeing a bit of an uptick (in advertising) prior to Christmas,&rdquo; said Spring, though she added that visibility into the first quarter of next year was extremely weak.<br /><br />Future had 27m unique visitors to its websites over the period, up from 18m last year, but in common with other publishers it faces the challenge of getting consumers to pay for online content.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our ambition is to get the balance of our digital revenue further away from advertising and further onto the customer,&rdquo; Spring said.<br /><br />The firm expects its commercial partnerships with companies such as Nintendo and Microsoft, for which it publishes the Official Xbox Magazine, will give it a secure base for recovery, along with charging for digital content in its niche music, sport and hobby markets.