Tuesday 19 March 2019 8:26 am

Digital advertising firm Ocean Outdoor posts profits boost amid expansion plan

Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

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Out-of-home advertising firm Ocean Outdoor has posted double-figure revenue and profit growth after a year of rapid expansion.

Read more: Ocean Outdoor snaps up Dutch ad agencies for €51m

The figures

Revenue rose 15.2 per cent to £62.2m in the 12 months to the end of December.

Gross profit increased 13.8 per cent to £25.2m.

The firm’s billings jumped 13.7 per cent year-on-year to £87.8m.

Cash on balance sheet was £160.5m.

Why it’s interesting

The company behind major public advertising spaces such as Piccadilly Circus has posted impressive growth in its first full-year results since its London float in January.

The figures come after a significant year for Ocean, which merged with acquisition vehicle Ocelot Partners in a £200m deal.

The company also acquired rival Forrest Media for roughly £32m, adding 77 new locations to its portfolio in Scotland.

Chief executive Tim Bleakley told City A.M. it had been an “absolutely full-on 12 months for the team” and said he was “super delighted” the firm had managed to drive growth amid significant operational changes.

Ocean deepened its focus on digital advertising, with digital billings making up 92.8 per cent of total billings, up from 89.1 per cent the previous year.

The results show the continued resilience of digital out-of-home (OOH) advertising as the sector contends with disruption from tech giants and Brexit uncertainty.

The firm cashed in on a surge in demand for digital OOH in the second half of the year, as brands were drawn in by the short-term nature of the sector and the improved brand safety of community-based media.

Ocean launched three new large screens at Westfield London, as well as several new locations in Manchester. In the first six months the firm operated live streams of the Royal Wedding and the Grand National in public outdoor locations.

Since the end of the year, Ocean has continued its merger strategy with the acquisition of Dutch firms Interbest and Ngage Media for roughly €51m (£45m).

The advertising firm is looking to reach 20 cities by 2020. Bleakeley said continental European markets, which have a lower penetration of digital OOH than the UK, offered significant opportunities and said Ocean was eyeing up further acquisitions in these areas.

Ocean said it expects revenue growth to continue in 2019, driven by organic growth and potential acquisitions. It maintained its forecast of high single-digit revenue growth for the year.

Shares in Ocean Outdoor were up more than two per cent in early trading.

Read more: Firm behind iconic Piccadilly Lights floats on London Stock Exchange

What Ocean said

Chief executive Tim Bleakley said: “This was a significant year for Ocean and these results reflect the actions taken throughout the year to grow, both organically and acquisitively, driving the continued strong performance of our business.

“The successes achieved this year in developing and expanding our network, as well as our entry into the European market, are a testament to the strength of our team and the growing potential for digital OOH.

“Looking ahead, management remain committed to the job in hand and delivering on our strategy, working alongside our talented teams who are already building on this momentum in 2019.”