Shares plunged as much as 30 per cent this afternoon for Daily Express and Mirror owner Reach after it posted a rocky set of half-year results.
Print revenue was down 3.9 per cent to £223.4m, with circulation and advertising plunging 5.1 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.
The publisher, which also owns OK! and the Daily Star, said this poor performance was driven by surging newsprint costs as energy prices hit an all-time high. Newsprint costs were up 65 per cent in the last year alone.
Chief exec Jim Mullen said the media publisher was toying with making papers thinner and hiking prices.
The firm has also been putting an increasing focus on more ‘data-led’ options, like PLUS+, to help build a more compelling offering to advertisers.
Digital revenue hit £72.5m for the media group, which was up 5.4 per cent against a strong prior year comparative.
Around 25 per cent of the total UK audience registered for Reach’s digital offerings, with registered users now over 11m (from 5m in 2020). Registered page views are now up 103 per cent for Reach.
However, once again, this digital momentum was slowed by conflict in Ukraine, and its impact on brand safety, as well as the wider sector slowdown in advertising demand.
Reach expects digital growth to be “subdued” for the rest of the year.
However, it’s not just results that the firm needs to worry about.
Earlier this month, The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) notified Reach that it will ballot its members, opening the way for over 3,000 staff to strike.
NUJ members rejected a 3 per cent, or a minimum £750 pay rise, in June, citing the cost of living crunch.
Concerns come as Mullen was paid more than £4m in the last financial year, while the company’s chief financial officer Simon Fuller cashed in £3.4m.