Reach to beat expectations after Express and Star takeover

Daily Mirror publisher Reach has said its 2018 performance will be ahead of market expectations following its takeover of the Daily Express and other titles.

The group said it now expects to deliver £3 million in cost savings from the merger this year, ahead of a previous target of £2 million.

Reach reiterated a target of reducing costs by £20 million per year by 2020.

Group revenue in the fourth quarter was up 23%, reflecting the acquisition, but like-for-like revenue is expected to fall by 5%.

Circulation and print advertising revenue are set to fall by 4% and 15% respectively on a like-for-like basis, but digital revenue will grow 5%.

Chief executive Simon Fox said: “I am pleased with the improved trading in the final quarter. This, coupled with continued tight management of the business, provides me with confidence that performance for the year is expected to be marginally ahead of expectations.

“We head into 2019 having made good progress with the integration of Express and Star and with clear plans in place for driving digital growth in the year ahead.”

Reach has also reduced its debt with the sale of two vacant properties in Liverpool and Cardiff, generating £5 million.

Net debt is set to be £55 million at the end of the year, down from £81 million at the half year.