Thursday 26 March 2020 2:34 pm

Mirror publisher Reach warns on coronavirus advertising impact

Daily Mirror publisher Reach today said it expected advertising revenue and print circulation to be hit during the coronavirus outbreak.

The media group, which also publishes the Daily Express, said advertisers would defer campaigns, while circulation would be impacted both by social distancing measures and store closures.

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The firm also warned that its events division, which runs awards and exhibitions across a range of sectors, would suffer from the pandemic.

Reach said it was developing mitigation plans to reduce the financial impact of the virus, while its 2019 full-year dividend remains unchanged.

Shares in the publishing company were down just over two per cent in afternoon trading.

Reach, which is the UK’s largest commercial national and regional publisher, has refocused efforts on its more lucrative digital business in recent years.

Last month the company unveiled plans to reach 7m registered customers by the end of 2022, up from fewer than 1m at the end of last year.

Reach did not say how the coronavirus crisis would impact these plans, but said trading for the first 12 weeks of the year was in line with expectations, while it ended 2019 with a net cash position of £20.4m.

In a note published today, Peel Hunt said the warning was “inevitable” in current circumstances.

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“Although Reach’s core competence has been (in addition to editorial) its ability to control costs, the pace of this crisis will have robbed them of the ability to match cost savings to revenue decline in the normal way,” the broker said.

Reach said it expected to provide a further update at its annual general meeting, which is scheduled for 7 May.