SPH says media biz seeing growth due to digital initiatives

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has reported that its operating profit held firm at SG$206.3 million for the year ended 31 August 2018 (FY2018). This was cushioned by cost savings even as operating revenue declined by SG$50 million (4.8%) to SG$982.6 million.

According to SPH, higher investment income of SG$115.2 million had boosted the performance across all reporting segments by 24% to SG$321.5 million.

While the revenue for the media business for FY2018 fell by SG$69.6 million (9.6%) to SG$655.8 million, SPH said that its core media business has remained profitable as the decline in revenue moderated. Its operating profit came in at SG$92.8 million, supported by lower staff costs, newsprint costs and depreciation charges.

Throughout the year, SPH's media business has seen growth opportunities with various digital initiatives and new partnerships. The firm also looks to invest in further digital initiatives, as it embraces data analytics, artificial intelligence and other advanced automation technologies to enhance the readership experience.

Apart from the media revenue, revenue from the others segment grew by 34% to SG$84.4 million, led by the first full-year contribution from the aged care business. In addition, the digital portfolio business saw gains from various divestments.

Meanwhile, the revenue for the property segment of SG$242.4 million was steady year-on-year despite the shift in retail environment. It held an operating profit of SG$151.8 million. According to the report, the Property segment remains the largest contributor to the group profit, providing a steady income stream for SPH.

“Print continues to experience headwinds, but we are seeing encouraging results from our efforts to digitise the core media business. We are making good progress in growing our property, digital portfolio and aged care businesses, including our recently acquired assets in the purpose-built student accommodation sector," Ng Yat Chung, chief executive officer of SPH, said.

Earlier this year, SPH appointed Ignatius Low as CMO, replacing Elsie Chua who retired from the company after 20 years of distinguished service. He is responsible for advertisement solutions across the print, digital, radio and outdoor platforms, as well as content marketing.

In July, the company launched a new creative and content marketing unit called Sweet. The new unit aims to  strengthen its alliance with agencies and clients to meet with increasing demand among clients for integrated storytelling across a range of multimedia formats – which has seen a steady growth over the past two years.

It also restructured its technology teams earlier this year, seeing former head of digital division Julian Tan being redesignated as chief of digital business. In conjunction with the move, SPH has also appointed Glen Gary Francis as its chief technology office and Gaurav Sachdeva as its chief product officer.

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