Monday 1 August 2016 1:57 pm

Ascential step away from print advertising exposure helps media company grow

Ascential, the business-to-business media company that floated in London this year, has reported a 13.5 per cent revenue growth in the first half of the year.

The figures

Turnover on a reported basis was £202.5m, up from £178.4m in the first half of 2015.

The company’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), meanwhile, was up 21 per cent, from £55.4m to £67.3m.

Ascential, which was formerly known as Top Right Group and Emap, also announced a maiden dividend of 1.5p per share.

Ascential’s share price fell one per cent to 267p after the results were reported on Monday.

Read more: Cannes Lions festival owner reports return to pre-tax profit

Why it’s interesting

The company launched an initial public offering (IPO) in February this year.

Around 40 per cent of its shares are on the London Stock Exchange, while Apax and the loss-making Guardian Media Group own the remaining 60 per cent.

Over the last five years, and under various names, Ascential has transformed itself and taken a large step away from magazine publishing.

Around half of its business is now in exhibitions and festivals, including Cannes Lions, while the other half comes from information services.

Within information services is global fashion and creative industries trend monitor WGSN and publisher Plexus, which is behind magazines like Retail Week, Drapers and the Health Service Journal.

What the company said

Ascential’s chief executive Duncan Painter and chief financial officer Mandy Gradden told City A.M. the company had taken a conscious step away from being dependent on the print advertising market.

“Print advertising is now less than three per cent of our company,” said Gradden, describing it as an area that is “structurally challenged”.

Read more: Ascential floats on the London market at 200p per share

Painter said: “We have a clear strategy that we don’t see that as a product that is part of our future long-term prospects, and therefore we’ve been actively pursuing growth in other product types. Particularly annualised subscription revenues, particularly in digital, and the expansion into live events.

“Effectively, yes, we see it as a declining income stream to which we are actively migrating the spend of our customers into the more positive streams. So it is declining rapidly, but mainly by design.”

In short

Business-to-business publisher takes stride away from print advertising dependence, grows strongly.