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DC Thomson sees profits increase

PUBLISHING group DC Thomson increased profits and dividend payments in the latest year, when cost savings offset the effect of reduced revenues in its newspaper and magazines division.

The Dundee-based group, which published the last print edition of the Dandy comic earlier this month, posted a pre-tax profit of £31.1 million for the year to March 31, compared with £28.6m in the preceding year.

The latest accounts for the family-owned group filed at Companies House show DC Thomson declared dividends totalling £16.9m in the latest financial year, up from £16.1m in the prior period.

Turnover fell 4%, to £272m from £284m, reflecting the challenging trading conditions facing publishers.

DC Thomson, whose titles include The Courier and the Press and Journal, said newspaper and magazine revenues fell to £127m from £132m.

"Total circulation revenues fell 2.1% to £87.9m but reflected an increase in newspaper revenues resulting from price increases in the last quarter of the year," it said in the accounts. "Magazine circulations have tended to decline but revenue decline was kept to a minimum through increases in face prices."

Divisional advertising revenues fell 3.3% to £29.4m. However, the division grew underlying trading profits around 10% annually, to £12.6m from £11.5m.

The company said changes to the structure of the business and the closure of book and magazine print plants and other savings boosted profitability.

The average monthly number of employees fell to 2027, from 2170 in the prior year.

Employee benefit costs totalled £56.5m, compared with £77.2m. Severance payments totalled £3m in the year, down from £14.2m.

The Aberdeen Journals subsidiary, publisher of the Press and Journal, made £1.6m pre-tax profit in the latest year, compared with a loss of £0.5m. Revenues fell to £32.3m from £32.7m.

Noting that the company has developed an enhanced print facility in Dundee, the company said: "We are firm believers in the future of our newspapers and magazines both in print and online."

The company is developing websites and digital media for its publications and new digital offerings in the social media and newspaper archive spheres.

The Dandy became an online- only title from this month.

The company's brightsolid arm publishes online archives. Online profits increased to £5.6m in the latest year, from £5.1m.

Profits at the books division fell to £3.4m, from £4.6m.

In a statement issued to The Herald, DC Thomson said: "In the past four years, the historic printing and publishing business has gone through transformational change, which has been both painful to do and expensive to carry out, particularly during a period of great uncertainty in the market.

"The changes have been made to give the business the best position for the future."

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