Belfast Telegraph

Guardian Media Group pushing forward with major turnaround plan

The owner of The Guardian is charging ahead with a major efficiency drive after slashing more than 300 jobs in a "painful though necessary" move last year.

Guardian Media Group (GMG) - which owns the Guardian newspaper, The Observer, and the international Guardian Weekly - said it was pushing forward its three-year turnaround plan meant to boost revenue and lower the Guardian's cost base by 20%.

The company said costs before exceptional items had already dropped £19 million over the past financial year, falling from £278 million to £259 million in the 12 months to April 2, after cutting around 300 full-time staff.

"These moves, painful though necessary, enabled the group to reduce losses," the group said in its full-year earnings release.

The company celebrated a 2% rise in group revenues to £214.5 million, helped by a 15% jump in digital revenues to £94.1 million, while losses were reduced by 35% to £44.7 million compared to £68.7 million a year earlier.

The Guardian is now "on track" to break even by the 2018/2019 financial year, helping GMG "become financially sustainable."

Pushing ahead with its cost cutting plan - which was launched at the start of 2016 - GMG last month revealed it would be downsizing the Guardian and its sister Sunday paper The Observer from their mid-size Berliner format to a tabloid from early 2018, resulting in the closure of its printing sites in Manchester and east London.

The printing will instead be outsourced to presses run by Trinity Mirror, owner of the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People tabloid.

It is not clear whether further job cuts are slated for the next financial year.

Chief executive David Pemsel said: "Despite the challenging market conditions faced by all news organisations around the world, our three-year strategy is well on track to achieve its financial goals and to secure the future of the Guardian.

"We are reducing our costs, growing new reader revenue streams, and developing our businesses in the US and Australia."

He also cheered growing digital revenues, membership and subscriptions, adding that more readers are paying for its journalism "than ever before".

GMG reported a 17.4% rise in regular online readers of between March 2016 and March 2017, while the number "regularly paying members" or subscribers came to 400,000.

"This is helping to build a strong foundation from which we will continue to invest in some of the most trusted journalism in the world," Mr Pemsel said.