The Mirror publisher’s ad sales were hit by marketing ‘blackout’ after Queen’s death

The editor of the Daily Express and Daily Mirror said a marketing “blackout” following the death of Queen Elizabeth II had severely impacted its advertising sales, giving a first indication of how the period of mourning had impacted British media groups.

Reach said on Tuesday that its digital revenues fell 8.1 percent in September, while its print advertising fell by almost a third in the month of the Queen’s funeral.

The publisher also announced the departure of its chief financial officer, Simon Fuller, after less than three years in the position. His departure comes after a difficult summer in which hundreds of Reach journalists went on strike over pay in August.

Fuller, who will remain in office until the end of this year, will be replaced by Darren Fisher, who was ITV’s group director of finance.

Reach’s trade figures are the first public gauge of how the break in advertising may have affected other media outlets in the UK, including Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, Lord Rothermere’s Mail titles and commercial broadcasters such as ITV.

While coverage of the Queen’s death prompted a sharp rise in newspaper sales, Reach said the additional revenue was more than offset by major brands postponing or canceling planned campaigns. As a result, group sales fell 4.1 percent in September and 1.9 percent in the third quarter.

Chief Executive Jim Mullen praised his newspapers for reporting “a truly unique event in a generation.”

“Cost measures are helping to ease inflationary pressures and while macro uncertainty persists, sales trends have improved [the third quarter] are positive,” he said.

Cost inflation, the deteriorating economy and fears over advertising spending end a difficult year for Reach, previously known as the Trinity Mirror, which has titles including the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Mail and Liverpool Echo.

Shares of the group fell as much as 4 percent in early trading on Tuesday, continuing a steep decline that has wiped out about three-quarters of its market value in less than a year. Shares recently recouped some of their early losses, trading 1.6 percent lower on Tuesday.

Reach traded at its highest share price since 2007 in August, buoyed by hopes that the company can successfully transition into the digital age with a suite of free-to-read brands and a consumer data-gathering strategy.

Over the next three months, Reach expects print run revenues to be supported by higher prices, while advertising sales are likely to increase due to the World Cup and Black Friday. The Mirror publisher’s ad sales were hit by marketing ‘blackout’ after Queen’s death

Adam Bradshaw

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