Irish-headquartered international newspaper group Independent News & Media suffered a hefty fall in profits over the first half of 2002, hit by the ad recession.

Owner of the Independent broadsheet and the Belfast Telegraph in the UK plus titles in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the group posted a 10% decline in pre-tax profits to €51.7 million ($50.2m; £32.5m).

Newspaper ad revenues slumped 6.8%, while turnover slipped 3% to €635.1m, which the group blamed on “the unprecedented devaluation of the South African rand.”

In Britain, profits dropped 4.7% to £6.4m on a 7% fall in revenue to £73.8m, though IN&M said that the ad markets in Northern Ireland and London had not been greatly affected by the downturn.

Executive chairman Sir Anthony O’Reilly focused on the positives: “Though aggregate advertising receipts were down due to the tighter global market and adverse currency movements, market share was up and our titles continued to show good increases in both circulation and readership.

“We remain confident that our brands will continue to outperform their peer group. Assuming that the advertising market exceeds industry expectations in the second half, we are hopeful of showing an improvement on 2001.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff