Wednesday 7 July 2021 12:50 pm

Evening Standard falls to £17m loss as lockdown hits commuting

The Evening Standard plunged to a £17.2m loss last year as repeated lockdowns and work-from-home orders hit the freesheet’s commuting readership.

Revenue for the year dropped by almost a third to £44m in the year to the end of September as lower reader numbers were compounded by a slump in advertising spend.

The pre-tax loss of £17.2m widened from £13.6m the previous year and marks the newspaper’s fourth consecutive year in the red.

The Evening Standard has been one of the biggest victims of the pandemic due to its reliance on advertising, which makes up 90 per cent of its revenue.

At the height of the first lockdown last April the paper’s circulation fell to 423,000, down from more than 700,000 the previous month.

As a result the title was forced to take drastic measures to cut costs, including by making a third of its workforce redundant.

In accounts published today the company said its cost-cutting measures, which included a reduction in circulation and discretionary spend, meant total operating costs reduced by £19m — or 26 per cent — on the previous year.

The Evening Standard secured an additional £20m in financing from shareholders, of which £7m was drawn down during the year.

It also secured £1.2m in government grants, including the government’s furlough scheme.

It came amid a series of leadership changes at the freesheet, which is owned by billionaire Evgeny Lebedev, who also owns the Independent.

In June Charles Yardley, a former City AM executive, was appointed as the Evening Standard’s new chief executive following the surprise departure of Mike Soutar.

Emily Sheffield was also appointed as the newspaper’s new editor following the departure of former chancellor George Osborne.

The Evening Standard acknowledged it had undergone a “significant restructuring as a result of difficult market conditions”.

But it said its focus was on building digital and mobile platforms alongside the printed paper, as well as developing a live events business.