Tuesday 4 May 2021 8:59 am

Ocean Outdoor ‘optimistic’ about ad recovery despite hefty pandemic loss

Ocean Outdoor today said it was “optimistic” about a recovery in the advertising market this year after the company crashed to a hefty loss during the pandemic.

Ocean, which operates major sites including Piccadilly Lights, reported a pre-tax loss of £182m last year, compared to a loss of £6.2m in 2019.

Read more: Ocean Outdoor swings to loss as pandemic batters advertising sector

Revenue for the year dropped 38 per cent to £86.2m, while the company booked a one-off impairment charge of £142m related to the impact of the pandemic.

Shares in Ocean Outdoor slipped just over 1.5 per cent in early trading.

The figures reflect the impact of the pandemic on the global advertising market as businesses slashed their ad spend.

Out-of-home advertising has been among the hardest hit sectors, with repeated lockdowns decimating footfall in key areas such as city centres, public transport and shopping malls.

But Ocean today said it was optimistic about a recovery in the market this year, insisting the business was in a stronger position than at the start of 2020.

The London-listed firm has signed an exclusive deal with BT Sport to show next-day Champions League match clips on its billboards.

It has also expanded at locations across Europe, including a new 10-year contract with Westfield Mall of the Netherlands and 28 digital screens at Oslo bus station.

Ocean has also announced a sealed bid auction ahead of COP26 allowing brands to appear on its screens across Edinburgh and Glasgow during the climate conference.

Read more: Ocean Outdoor revenue drops as coronavirus hits advertising industry

“Throughout the period Ocean Outdoor has continued to invest in its platforms and products to prepare for the impending recovery,” said chief executive Tim Bleakley.

“With a strong balance sheet and growth opportunities in every area of our operations, our focus is now on the speed of that recovery as restrictions are lifted.”