Trinity Mirror is to change its name to Reach following the acquisition of Richard Desmond’s Express and Star titles, as the newspaper publisher reported a slump in revenues in tough trading conditions last year.
The chief executive, Simon Fox, said the new name encapsulates the reach its newspaper titles have with readers in print and digital.
Fox’s pay packet swelled by 19% to £893,000 last year, thanks to almost £300,000 in bonuses and awards.
Why Trinity Mirror bought the Express and Star titles
The Trinity Mirror name will be scrapped after almost 20 years if investors vote to approve the change to Reach at the publisher’s annual general meeting in May.
“We wanted a simple name, a Ronseal name – ‘it does what it says on the tin’ – that simply describes what we do,” said Fox.
“Trinity Mirror came about from the merger of two companies in 1999. Since then we have bought [regional newspaper publisher] Local World and [Express Newspapers owner] Northern and Shell. The old name no longer reflects the composition of the group. We felt it was necessary out of respect for our new colleagues.”
Last week, the UK competition regulator issued an initial enforcement order, which stops Trinity Mirror from integrating Express Newspapers, while it examines whether to launch a full investigation into the deal.
Fox has promised that Desmond’s Brexit-supporting titles would be kept editorially independent from his Labour-supporting Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
However, the company announced that it was replacing the editors of the Daily Express and Daily Star, who resigned days after Trinity Mirror shareholders voted to approve the deal.
Despite the move, Fox maintained that the Express and Star will “absolutely” remain independent.
“The Mirror isn’t going rightwing and the Express isn’t going leftwing,” he said. “We have put in senior experienced editors who are going to continue to reflect the views of readers. We still have in place the editor of the Sunday Express and all of the editorial team at the Daily Express.”
Trinity Mirror reported a 12.6% fall in total revenues to £632m last year, as the newspaper publishing market continues to struggle. Pre-tax profits grew slightly from £76.5m to £81.9m, thanks to a £20m cost-cutting plan that helped to push up margins.
“We once again delivered a strong financial performance in what remains a difficult trading environment for the industry,” said Fox.
The publisher reported a 25% fall in newspaper print advertising last year, while growth in digital revenue from publishing operations fell far short of target.
Digital revenue grew by 7% to £83.9m, accounting for just 13% of total revenues, missing the company’s target of 15% growth per annum. Within this, digital display and transactional revenue grew 18.2%, with the company targeting “at least” 20% growth this year.