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‘Herald parent company loses €700k

The parent company behind the Roscommon Herald and several local newspaper titles and radio stations made a loss of €700,000 in the first eleven months of its existence.

That’s according to a report in today’s Irish Times which states that Landmark Media Investments carried over a bank loan of €19.5 million from TCH, accounts filed for the group at the Companies Office shows.

Some €1.5 million was due to be repaid in 2014, leaving it owing €18 million to the bank.

Landmark was formed after Cork based media group Thomas Crosbie Holdings went into receivership.

In a note accompanying the accounts, the directors say the company continues to receive the financial support of its main lender, AIB, with sufficient funding in place for the next 12 months of operation.

Landmark is also supported by a €1 million loan from its parent company, Rinvery Ltd, which is majority owned by Tom Crosbie.

The group employed 420 people on average last year, a little more than half the numbers on TCH’s payroll at the peak of the economic boom. In April of this year, it also said it planned to cut a further 10 per cent of its workforce.

Job losses took place in the Roscommon Herald in September on foot of that April announcement.

Administration and finance functions moved to Cork breaking a 155 year tradition with the town.

Production staff in the ‘Herald are also earmarked for redundancy in the coming months leaving only sales and reporting staff remaining in Boyle.

The group’s turnover arrived at €36.9 million for the period from the company’s date of incorporation, February 6th, 2013, to December 29th of that year.

Cash flow projections and budgets “indicate that resources will be available to the group for a period of at least 12 months” following the approval of the financial statements.

Other titles owned by Landmark include the Western People, the Roscommon Herald, the Evening Echo, the Waterford News and Star, the Nationalist and the Wexford Echo, while it also has interests in radio stations WLR FM, Beat 102-103 FM and Red FM. Its holding in Mayo’s MidWest Radio, through the Western People, came to an end this year.

A deficit of €2.8 million relating to the legacy TCH pension scheme will be reflected in the 2014 accounts. Irish Examiner Ltd, subsidiary of Landmark, became the sponsoring employer of the former Irish Examiner scheme in June.

The directors’ report accompanying the accounts lists “intense competition” among the principal risks facing the company, but says the group is “intent on maintaining and improving its share” of the markets in which it operates.

“Cost reduction and value for money remain at the centre of the group’s core strategy,” the report states, adding that capital investments made to reduce the operating cost base of the group have “to date yielded benefits”.

This year has seen little respite for newspaper circulation, with the Irish Examiner’s sales falling 8 per cent to about 35,000 in the first half of 2014 and Cork’s Evening Echo selling an average of less than 14,000, down 10.5 per cent.

Landmark is “committed to all of its core brands”, the directors said. “The protection and development of those brands is extremely important to the group.”

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