APN looks for more cost savings

Jobs could be on the line as the Australian regional media (ARM) operations of APN News and Media look for more cost savings with revenue continuing to fall.


APN chief executive Michael Miller said the group intended to retain all of its Australian regional newspapers at the moment but when asked if job cuts may be necessary said: “I can’t say no to that”.

“Unfortunately, that’s business.

“I think it’s prudent that all businesses look at their cost line.”

Also, new technology could be employed and duplication between newspapers in the group eliminated.

Sydney-based APN, which also has significant publishing and radio assets in New Zealand, on Friday booked a net profit of $12.8 million for the six months to June 30, 2013.

In the prior corresponding period, APN reported a loss of $319.4 million after slashing the value of its New Zealand publishing business.

ARM revenue fell 14 per cent to $107.8 million, compared to the prior corresponding period.

ARM earnings were down 40 per cent to $12.7 million.

Tough conditions in the retail sector and in local job markets continues to weigh upon ARM’s advertising revenue.

But, APN said, the fall in revenue had eased early in the second half of the company’s financial year, and government spending was starting to pick up.

It said it had achieved cost savings in the first half from the restructure of ARM’s operations in northern NSW, resizing of its head office and the outsourcing of support functions.

Also, a printing plant at Ballina had been closed earlier in August.

Mr Miller said APN’s regional newspapers in Australia were heavily reliant upon mining industry advertising, and the contraction in that sector had affected those papers directly.

ARM, therefore, needed to focus on other sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, and on growing demographic segments such as the babyboomers in Queensland.

Also, ARM now had a new management team.

Queensland’s economic recovery from recent natural disasters would also help ARM’s performance to improve, Mr Miller said.

APN said its publishing arm had already achieved $25 million in cost savings and was targeting $35 million for the full year.

Shares in APN were 6.5 cents, or 22.41 per cent, higher at 35.5 cents at 1216 AEST on Friday.

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