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Guardian’s ‘digital-first’ means more losses, more lay-offs

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Guardian News & Media is re-opening its voluntary redundancy programme after its “digital-first” survival strategy‘s first year resulted in much higher company losses.

Operating loss grew 42 percent from £33.1 million to £44.2 million ($69 million) – blamed by the publisher on “investment in digital platforms and set-up costs for the five-year transformation programme” announced in August 2011.

But GNM has also reached the same kind of milestone some other publishers have reached lately – digital revenue growth (16.3 percent to £45.7 million) made up for lost print revenue…

That meant overall company revenue stayed broadly unchanged from last year at £196.2 million. The higher losses happened because it costs money to fire people and restructure a company.

So GNM has to go on shedding staff in what is now an extended restructure. It plans to cut a further £7 million from its editorial budget and this week began asking for more redundancies. A spokesperson told paidContent the £7 million forms part of a planned £25 million reduction by 2016/17; staff were told in March.

The group says its U.S. audience grew 80 percent to 20 million unique monthly browsers, amongst a total 67.8 million (up 38 percent).

The “digital-first” strategy is seeing GNM downsize its printed products, court U.S. eyeballs and publish “open” or “mutualised” journalism, whilst operator GMG sells off non-core divisions.

When GMG sells its shares of its B2B assets, Trader Media Group and Emap, The Guardian will benefit from a windfall, but will later need an effective profit model of its own to fall back on.

Disclosure: Guardian News & Media is an investor in our parent company, Giga Omni Media.

2 Responses to “Guardian’s ‘digital-first’ means more losses, more lay-offs”

  1. Nick Haworth

    I read the Guardian every single day of the week on my train journey to work. But I don’t pay for it. I use a free app that I downloaded on my Android phone. It’s great…….all the content and pictures beautifully presented and no adverts to get in the way. So free app. Free content. Ad free. If only all businesses took the same approach…….free food, free drink, free everything!