Future brighter with focus on digital media

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THE publisher behind magazines such as Classic Rock, Total Film and T3 said moves to refocus as a digital media group have paid off as it posted a 68 per cent leap in annual earnings.

Bath-based Future said it was “fast becoming a new kind of business” after establishing itself as a publisher in the tablet computer market and growing its online audience by 70 per cent over the year to more than 50 million users a month.

The group has also overhauled its loss-making US business and said recovery measures would see the division return to profit in the next financial year.

Future which also publishes a stack of gaming titles including the Official Xbox Magazine, reported underlying operating profits of £6.9m in the 12 months to September 30, up from £4.1m a year earlier, while bottom line figures show a return to the black with pre-tax profits of £1.1m against previous losses of £18m. Its digital revenues rose by nearly a third to £20.6m, now accounting for 18 per cent of group turn- over.

Future plans to boost this to more than half of group sales within three to four years.

The firm now has more than 100 digital titles and has developed tablet software, which is being used by Jamie Oliver Magazine and Auto Trader, with licence deals being struck with publishers worldwide.

Future’s gadget magazine T3 is the best-selling tablet title in the UK, selling around 30,000 copies a month, while MacLife is the top technology title in the US with sales of around 65,000 a month.

The shift towards digital media has helped it weather tough print advertising markets, with UK earnings rising 13 per cent in the year to £9.3m.

It is also central to the turnaround of its beleaguered US arm, which saw underlying losses narrow.