Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Editorial News
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - ONLINE EDITION

Free Press owners to cut costs after Q1 drop

The province's largest newspaper publisher has been pursuing new revenue-generating opportunities, including real estate, in the wake of a recent decline in traditional newspaper revenue.

FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP), which owns the Winnipeg Free Press, Brandon Sun and nine community and special-interest newspapers, reported on Tuesday an 8.7 per cent decline in revenues for the first three months of this year.

That led to a 41.7 per cent drop in net earnings -- $1.7 million versus $2.9 million in the first quarter of 2013 -- and a 29.5 per cent decline in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- $3.1 million versus $4.4 million.

FP Newspapers Inc. (FPI) -- the publicly traded company that owns securities entitling it to 49 per cent of the distributable cash of FPLP -- also saw its net earnings drop to $500,000, or 7.9 cents per share, from $1 million, or 14.1 cents per share a year earlier.

"It's a challenging business," FPI chairman Ron Stern told the company's annual shareholders meeting in Winnipeg. "But I think we still have a very good business... as long as we manage it smartly and decisively, and that is what we are going to be doing to the best of our ability."

Free Press publisher Bob Cox said that includes further reducing operating costs and developing new sources of revenue. He noted the Free Press has rented out office space in its Mountain Avenue building to two outside tenants -- a local development corporation and a customs brokerage firm -- and has more space to rent out if additional tenants can be found.

The company also recently installed ultraviolet ink-processing equipment at its Derksen Printing facility in Steinbach that will enable it to compete for commercial printing contracts, Cox said. Later this year or early next year it will introduce a user-pay system for the online version of the Free Press.

"We're one of the last ones that haven't done this," he said. "I don't think there is another big-city paper that hasn't done it."

On the cost-reduction side, FPLP said it is reviewing operating costs in all of its business units. Cox also said the Free Press won't replace most of the two dozen employees who have retired since last summer, or have announced their intention to retire.

He said the unusually long, cold winter was hard on the retail and newspaper industries because it discouraged consumers from going out and spending money, which in turn led to retailers cutting their newspaper ads.

FPLP saw its print advertising revenue drop by 10.9 per cent in the first quarter of the year. It also saw declines of 4.3 per cent in its classified advertising revenue and 5.8 per cent in print circulation revenue. However, commercial printing and digital revenue were up by 3.9 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively, and flyer distribution revenue was unchanged.

Stern said revenue has rebounded in recent weeks: "May is looking good."

An unusually large volume of FPI shares -- 103,546 -- traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange Tuesday. The share price fell 34 cents, or 6.9 per cent, to close at $4.60.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media