Trinity Mirror upbeat after profits slide

Steve Dinneen
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NEWSPAPER giant Trinity Mirror saw profits slide 41 per cent year-on-year as the advertising drought continued to batter the industry.

It posted profits of £72.2m for 2009, above most expectations, but sales fell 14 per cent to £763.3m and operating profit dropped 30 per cent to £101.2m.

The beleaguered firm embarked on a series of stringent spending cuts, saving the company £67.9m. Many of these cuts came from a redundancy scheme and the closure of several newspapers. However, chief executive Sly Bailey said there are no immediate plans for further job losses.

She sounded a cautiously optimistic note for the coming year, pointing to a slowdown in the decline in advertising revenue to just one per cent in January. She said advertising revenue could be flat year-on-year by the second half of 2010.

Trinity Mirror said last month it had agreed to buy Guardian Media Group’s (GMG) local newspapers, including the iconic Manchester Evening News, for £44.8m, including £7.4m in cash. The sum also included settling an existing print contract with Trinity Mirror.

More than £15m has been earmarked for restructuring costs this year, including moving the GMG operation to a new office.

The group welcomed news that an existing print contract with the Independent will be honoured if the paper is bought by former KGB-man Alexander Lebedev.

The company is considering reinstating its shareholder dividend after it was scrapped when its share price reached an all-time low during the height of the advertising slump.