Earnings: Centaur Web Sales Flat, 15 Percent Of Staff Laid Off

imageimageNew Media Age and The Lawyer publisher Centaur saw H208 revenue slide 19 percent from a year ago to £31.5 million as it swung from a £2.8 million profit to a £100,000 statutory loss. And the situation has worsened so far this year…

No wonder it’s been axing titles – Centaur ended the period with just £1 million in the bank. Everyone expected print ad sales to decrease sharply (they’re down 23 percent, with job ads worse, down 30 percent). But this time online ad sales, which we had grown used to seeing boom and where Centaur now gets 35 percent of its job ads, were themselves flat.

The marketing and creative division that publishes NMA lost 18 percent of its sales, down to £8.7 million, thanks to job ads’ contraction, though online job ads grew 16 percent – but they grew by a third through 2008). The web now makes up 21 percent of the division’s sales.

Centaur’s events business lost 12 percent of revenue after ditching conferences aimed at the financial sector. Its legal and financial division lost a third of its sales

The group has been making cost cuts over the last few months – turning Mad.co.uk from an original-content site in to an aggregator, closing Public Private Finance magazine, publicprivatefinance.com and Precision Marketing.; other mags have reduced page count. CEO Geoff Wilmot said his “progressive and radical programme of cost reductions” has meant a 15 percent headcount reduction across the group, though its major sales and editorial teams have been cut by up to a third.

The cuts will save £10 million for 2008/09 and £2 million in 2009/10. But the cuts themselves cost £300,000 this year and will end up costing £1.2 million. The closed magazines had brought in £3 million revenue and £2 million profit. The company reckons its major brands will see it right “when markets recover”.