Guardian Media Group’s turnaround plan appears to have paid off after the publisher of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers reported that revenue rose 3% to £224.5m in the last financial year, enabling it to hit its break-even target.

GMG also revealed that its Guardian News & Media (GNM) subsidiary achieved an operational profit, before exceptional items, of £800,000 for the first time since the 1990s.

The company has been pursuing a strategy over the past three years to boost funds from readers, increase income from digital and to build up its international business.

To that end, GNM introduced a voluntary reader contribution model in 2016, while also operating an ad-funded website, and it reported that The Guardian had 655,000 regular paying readers over the past 12 months as well as another 300,000 one-off contributors.

Its overseas operations did well last financial year, with revenues at the online-only Guardian US and Guardian Australia growing to £30.8m, representing 14% of GMG’s global total.

And, significantly, the company also reported that digital revenues increased 15% year-on-year to £125.3m, making up 56% of all revenues, and that 80% of the group’s estimated advertising revenue of £90m came from digital.

In addition, print advertising accounted for just 8% of the company’s total income, unlike many rival news organisations in the UK which continue to rely heavily on newspaper advertising.

“GNM has been transformed in the last three years into a more reader-funded, more digital and more international business,” said David Pemsel, GMG’s chief executive.

“Going forward we have a clear strategy and a set of strengths which will help ensure the Guardian’s sustainability despite the ongoing challenges in the global media sector,” he added.

However, despite these improvements, GMG continues to rely on subsidies of up to £30m a year from its ultimate owner, the not-for-profit Scott Trust, which has built up an endowment fund worth at least £1bn.

According to Press Gazette, the fund made a return of about £45m in 2018-19, which counts towards group profit figures, and GMG said this put it in a “sustainable position”.

Sourced from Guardian Media Group, Press Gazette; additional content by WARC staff