AS Ekspress Grupp, the leading media organisation in the Baltic States improved its profitability in the first quarter of the year due to higher digital revenue and cost savings, and its loss was more than 60% lower as compared to the previous year.
The revenue in the first three months of the year declined by 3% to EUR 15.3 million as compared to same period in 2020. According to the CEO of Ekspress Grupp, Mari-Liis Rüütsalu the revenue decline is primarily attributed to the drop in export volumes in the printing services segment due to coronavirus restrictions in Europe. “The drop in exports was offset by digital revenue which increased by 18 per cent in the first quarter and which accounted for 50 per cent of the Group’s total revenue and 72% of media segment revenue,” noted Rüütsalu.
In the 1st quarter of 2021, the consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled EUR 1.09 million which is EUR 0.4 million or 62% higher as compared to the previous year. In the 1st quarter of 2021, the consolidated net loss totalled EUR 0.26 million which is EUR 0.48 million or 64% lower as compared to 2020.
“We managed to strengthen our market position and improve profitability, despite the worsening pandemic in the Baltic States. Due to the seasonality, advertising sales are lower in the first months of the year, but the company’s transition to the digital revenue base resulted in growth of profitability of more than 60 per cent and a decrease in quarterly net loss. Ongoing cost reductions and strong sales of online advertising and digital subscriptions in all the Baltic States have helped improve profitability,” explained Rüütsalu.
The volume of digital subscriptions of AS Ekspress Grupp increased by 74% by the end of March 2021 as compared to the same period last year and totalled ca 95 thousand subscriptions. “Readers’ interest in high-quality content has been increasing. We have maintained our leadership position as compared to our competitors, although competition in the area of digital subscriptions is intensifying. Ekspress Grupp has set digital subscription growth as one of its key goals because it will create a differentiated and increasingly stronger digital revenue base for the Group’s media outlets,” explained Rüütsalu.
Ekspress Grupp notes in the 1st quarter’s interim report that the effects of the ongoing pandemic in the 1st quarter were not of the same magnitude as in March 2020 when advertising sales received a major setback. The state of emergency related to COVID-19 has had the greatest impact on the ticket sales platform in Latvia where all cultural events were cancelled in the 1st quarter.
AS Ekspress Grupp is the leading media group in the Baltic States whose key activities include web media content production, publishing of newspapers and magazines and provision of printing services in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Ekspress Grupp that launched its operations in 1989 employs 1600 people, owns leading web media portals in the Baltic States and publishes the most popular daily and weekly newspapers as well as the majority of the most popular magazines in Estonia.