Archant, the community media business and publisher of The Cambs Times, Wisbech Standard and Ely Standard, has announced a healthy increase in operating profits for the last year to £9.4m.

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In a preliminary statement to shareholders, chairman Richard Jewson said results in the year to December 31, 2013, saw operating profit before amortisation, impairment and exceptional costs at £9.4m (2012: £6.3m) up 49.2% on full year turnover down 3.6% at £126.6m (2012: £131.4m).

These were achieved, said Mr Jewson “despite continuing industry challenges and with little help from the economy”.

Net debt at the end of the year stood at £6.8m (2012: £15.7m), reflecting strong cash generation in the year.

Mr Jewson said: “Our traditional newspaper businesses improved profitability year-on-year. However, challenges in our magazine businesses caused a decline in magazine profitability. Significant efforts have been placed on monetisation of our digital offerings, resulting in a 19.3% increase in digital revenues to £7.2m.”

Cost management, together with a reduction in newsprint costs, saw total operating cost savings of £7.9m, with continued investment in training for the sales forces and in new product development.

“We will continue to shape the business to the changing requirements of our customers, who, of course, are also feeling their way into this changing world,” said Mr Jewson.

“Whilst we expect to see an improvement in our revenues this year, economic growth will inevitably give rise to cost pressures.”

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