Axel Springer Verlag, Europe’s number-one newspaper publisher, is bracing itself for a rough 2001, according to group chairman August Fischer.

Even though Springer cannot calculate the year’s expected ad revenue (its core source of income) until the second half, 2001 will still be a difficult year, said Fischer. Adding a little detail, chief financial officer Ralf Kogeler revealed: “If the current trend continues it will certainly become difficult to maintain the earnings level.”

Springer saw a net profit of E98 million in 2000, itself a considerable fall from 1999’s E151m. Nor have he first four months of 2001 provided comfort – sales, forecast to grow 4%–6% through the year, rose only 2.5%, and much of this came from new activities outside the group’s core newspaper, magazine and print businesses.

In response, Springer is embarking upon an economy drive to slash costs by a “medium two-digit million sum.” However, it intends to continue its program of heavy investment, which totalled E100m last year and is set to rise in 2001.

News source: Handelsblatt (Germany)