In a trading update issued on 30 June for the six-month period up to 2 July, the group, which publishes the Daily Mirror along with numerous regional titles, said print is set to decline by 12% on a like-for-like basis compared with the first half of 2016, partially offset by a 5% growth in digital sales, meaning overall publishing revenue is expected to fall by 10%. Overall group revenue is set to decline by 9%.
The “like-for-like” comparison excludes from the 2016 comparative an extra week of trading in 2016, the print contract for the Independent, which ceased in April 2016, the sale of Rippleffect in August 2016 and other portfolio changes.
Print advertising and circulation revenue will fall by 21% and 6% respectively over the period, while digital display and transactional revenue will grow by 18%.
Trinity chief executive Simon Fox said: “The trading environment for print in the first half remained volatile but we remain on course to meet our expectations for the year.
“I anticipate that the second half will show improving revenue momentum as we benefit from initiatives during the first half of the year.”
The group, which will publish its half-year results in full at the end of this month, said that although the trading environment remains challenging, the board anticipated that interim and full-year results would be “in line with our expectations”.
It issued an update on its £10m share buyback programme, which now consists of
6.6 million shares bought back for £6.8m and £7.5m paid to pension schemes related to the programme.
It also said it is continuing to make progress on settling civil claims in relation to phone hacking, with damages for more than 80% of claims settled, although provision for settling the matters has increased by £7.5m.
In a bid to improve print revenues, from early 2018 Trinity Mirror will take on the printing of The Guardian, which is set to switch from its mid-size Berliner format and go tabloid. It is unclear at the moment which of its five printing sites – Watford, Birmingham, Teesside, Cardonald (Glasgow) and Oldham – will take on the work.
In its 2016 annual results announced in February, Trinity Mirror reported a group sales increase of 20.2%, which was in the main put down to the acquisition of rival regional publisher Local World.