31 May 2000

The UK’s largest publisher of consumer magazines yesterday announced revenue growth of less than 1% for the six months to March 31. However, thanks to a surge in ad income, pre-tax profit before exceptionals and goodwill rose from £700,000 to £2.4m.

Although advertising revenues grew 7.6% to £62.2 million, IPC chief executive Sly Bailey reported circulation revenues down 3.1% to £106 million. This, said Ms Bailey, reflected the group's response to a new direct competitor in the television listings market: a cover price-slash on IPC's What's On TV, aimed at countering the impact of newcomer TV Choice, cost the group £4.2m.

IPC women's weeklies group, Connect, saw turnover rise by 3.1% in the period, the closure of Eva being countered by strong growth at Now and Chat. Revenue at IPC Music & Sport was up by 5.2%, boosted by the launch of Later and Rally.

The group has been recently dogged by rumours of a trade sale, in which cable group Telewest looms large; but Bailey insisted yesterday that - rumours notwithstanding - all options, including a flotation, remain open.

News source: The Times (London)