Evening Standard hits profit for second year

Just five years after the London Evening Standard abandoned a cover price as it struggled against a string of losses, the daily has posted a reported profit of £2.5 million ($4.68 million AUD) for its last financial year.

The 187-year-old London newspaper owned by Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev’s Independent Print owes it recent success to advertising and sponsorship revenues that have generated around £56 million ($104.77 million AUD) during the last year.

During the period, the Evening Standard’s distribution was in the region of 700,000 copies in London, reaching more than 1.6 million people according to National Readership Survey figures. Since the start of this week, the Standard’s distribution increased towards 900,000.

Before the paper went free in October 2009, it was running at an expected annual loss of £30 million.

After its first full year as a free proposition, the Standard posted a loss of £16.9 million. In the second year, from October 2010 to September 2011, losses had been reduced to £7 million. In October 2012, Media Week broke the news that it had turned its first profit in the year to September 2012.

The robust financial performance of the Standard in 2013 comes despite the newspaper enjoying a significant advertising lift the previous year around the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Some analysts had questioned whether Mr Lebedev’s Evening Standard could stay in the black after the Olympics, which had introduced significant new advertising spend to the London-centric title.

Advertising in the wider press market is believed to have fallen by at least 10 per cent last year, although this was partially offset in many groups by digital gains.

A series of new partnerships with brands, including the Evening Standard’s Get Reading initiative with Nook (Barnes & Noble), a City Breaks partnership with British Airways and a Wimbledon tie-up with Evian, have helped supplement traditional ad revenues.

Meanwhile, the story is not as rosy for Mr Lebedev’s Independent with rumours growing of a pending sale.

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