GWR Group – the British radio company that owns Classic FM, 38 local radio licences around the UK plus interests in Europe and Australia – posted a steep drop in profits for its fiscal first half and warned no improvement in trading conditions is in sight.

Excluding tax and exceptional items, profits stood at £2.8 million ($4m) for the six months to the end of September, down 70%, with revenues rising 6.3% to £62.4m. Ad revenues fell 5.9% on a comparable basis, but this was better than the 9.4% drop for the industry in general, said GWR.

“It is a difficult market but ours is a robust business strongly supported by excellent assets,” commented executive chairman Ralph Bernard. “GWR is planning its business on the assumption that the present difficult trading conditions will continue for some time.”

In response, GWR is considering selling its minority stakes in European radio stations in markets such as Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary. “It’s tough in Europe and staying as we are is not an option,” continued Bernard. “I’m not saying we’re definitely going to sell, but we’re not going to put any more time or money into them. We’re open to merging the interests with other European radio groups.”

News sources: CampaignLive (UK);