ZIMBABWE’S biggest diversified media group, Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited’s revenue increased by 59 percent to $40,7 billion in the first six months of the year with all units posting improved revenues and registering 8,4 million visitors to the group’s websites.
The group chairman, Mr Tommy Sithole said the media group will seek to capitalise on any opportunities that will arise from the measures that were put in place by the Government to stabilise the local currency and grow the economy.
He noted that performance for the second half of the year is expected to be better than the first half as the second half is the peak period for the business.
“The revenue for the company increased by 59 percent to $40,7 billion during the period under review when compared to $25,6 billion for the same period last year. The growth in revenue was recorded by all the strategic business units of the company,” he said in the financial results for the year ended 31 June 2023
Mr Sithole said owing to a high cost of sales base arising from raw material and labour increases due to the inflationary pressures, gross profit margin declined to 56 percent compared to 69 percent for the same period last year.
He noted that overheads as a percentage of sales increased to 61 percent compared to 54 percent for 2022.
The chairman said due to these cost increases, the business recorded a loss before interest and monetary adjustments of $1,3 billion compared to a profit of $4,0 billion for the same period last year.
A monetary gain of $944 million was recorded that mitigated the loss before tax to $1,0 billion compared to a profit of $1,4 billion recorded in 2022 comparative period.
Mr Sithole highlighted that the newspaper division recorded 38 percent revenue growth to $23,6 billion compared to $17,1 billion for same period last year.
“Owing to a high-cost base arising from the inflationary pressures and low volume performance, the business recorded a profit margin of 2% compared to 23 percent for the same period last year.
“Resultantly, net profit before interest, exchange, and monetary adjustments of $439,0 million was recorded compared to $3,9 billion for last year.”
The Commercial Printing Division recorded a strong revenue growth of 116 percent to $8,2 billion compared to $3,8 billion for the comparable period for 2022.
He said the growth was mainly driven by cartons and general jobs’ volumes that improved during the period under review.
“Despite the significant revenue growth, raw materials, repairs and maintenance costs increased by a significant margin resulting in the business recording a modest profit margin of 2 percent compared to 10 percent for 2022.”under the Radio Broadcasting Division, revenue improved by 85 percent to $8,9 billion compared to $4,8 billion for the same period last year. The Radio broadcasting division’s operating profit before interest, exchange gain or losses and monetary adjustments of $508,4 million was weighed down by the losses from the start up television broadcasting segment.”
“We are confident that the ZTN channel will turn around the corner in the near future and start positively to contribute to the division’s profitability as the channel is gaining popularity and building a strong audience base.”
In the period under review, Mr Sithole said the media environment generally remained stable, with gains in digital and radio audiences making up for the stagnant growth experienced by printed newspapers.
“We still have a fairly large number of people who still prefer the printed copies and this is giving good value to advertisers. The younger audiences, consistent with the current global trends, are using digital platforms where they consume their preferred content at their convenience,” he noted.
The chairman noted that there is increased competition in the television market after a fourth Zimbabwean television station was launched on the same Multichoice platform which carries Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) resulting in heightened competition for the advertising revenue.
He said the media group will continue to improve the quality of content on ZTN Prime, which is connecting well with audiences.
“Despite the increased competition, the latest Zimbabwe All Media and Products Survey report shows that our newspapers are the most read whilst our radio stations are dominating the urban markets. ZTN has also increased its reach. “
He observed that the media house is conscious of the global media landscape, where there is a significant shift towards digital platforms and online streaming services, leading to an increase in on-demand content consumption.
As a diversified media company, Mr Sithole said Zimpapers is adapting to these changing trends and has invested in digital platforms to reach a wider audience.
“We have set up fully fledged digital teams in newspaper, radio and television units, which are driving our digital growth. We have also worked to optimise our websites and applications for mobile devices to ensure a seamless user experience,” he said.
Zimpapers continues to leverage on its strong media industry brand recognition and digitally fact checked compelling content creation capabilities to attract new and retain loyal customers in the digital space, he said adding that the content is available on all the mainstream digital platforms for all editorial titles.
The company’s broadcasting division has also positioned itself quite conveniently for the customers through investing in the latest and digitally sustainable software and hardware tools that make it easy to curate digital content for its digitally savvy customers.
“ Consequently, the Group’s online digital media audience increased by 17 percent from 7,6 million followers and website visitors to 8,4 million. Furthermore, the company also invested in the latest protection and performance firewalls to ensure that its systems would not be compromised, and customer data remains protected according to the “Data Protection Act”. 2.0”