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Future looks ahead after 'disappointing' results

Michael French
Future looks ahead after 'disappointing' results

Future's full-year results show 'resilience' in its UK business - but the US business continues to slow the Group down. So it will merge the two to create "a single global product line".

This morning the firm announced that strong digital revenue growth (up 36 per cent) in the UK has offset the expected and managed decline in print revenues that all media is seeing.

But the US side of its business has seen significant loss driven by print, so new CEO Mark Wood wants to bring the two together to create a business that taps "into the borderless digital markets opening up worldwide".

The move should satisfy Future naysayers who insist the firm is struggling - even though most of its troubles are in the US.

For the year ending September 30th, revenue was down six per cent to £141.7m, and the firm went to a loss in FY11 from a profit in FY10. The firm's net debt increased 59 per cent by £4.4m to £11.8m.  

Earlier this year, the firm started to restructure its UK business, laying off 10 per cent of staff over here - just a few weeks ago it also ditched CEO Stevie Spring and CFO John Bowman.

Future plans to 'reduce scale of exposure' in the US and return the region's interests to profitability by 2013.

In its financial report the firm said it has launched over 100 digital titles for tablet devices, with "encouraging" results including "six million Apple Newsstand app downloads in first month".

Chairman Peter Allen pointed to recent management restructures as a clear sign Future has the right leadership: "Future has delivered disappointing results in the past financial year, in line with previous announcements.

"Given the decline in Group performance and profitability, the Board took action to remove corporate level cost and change the way the company is managed. We have installed as new Group CEO and Finance Director, two individuals with a proven track record of running an efficient business for Future in the UK and achieving rapid and profitable digital transformation.
In his statement, he added: "We expect to see the Group return to profit growth in the year ahead."

New CEO Mark Wood, who replaced Stevie Spring, added "Building on the digital success in the UK, we have taken steps to reorganise the company, merge UK and US operations and create a single global product line. These changes will enable us to operate more efficiently and return the US business to profitability. The changes will also mean that we can accelerate our transition to a digital business model and start to sell our entire range of digital content to high-value audiences in the US and other key markets.

"Digital channels such as the Apple iPad are rapidly opening up new routes to markets in which our niche products can quickly build a loyal following. Future's success on the Apple Newsstand, with more than six million downloads of our apps in a month, has demonstrated our ability to develop and deliver digital products at high speed, and underlines the global appeal of content ranging from Cycling, Games and Technology to Music, Film and Crafts. So, as a result, we look forward to the year ahead with confidence."

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Tags: future , future publishing

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