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Trinity AGM – what’s in a name?

Posted: May 5th, 2018

A report on the Annual General Meeting of Trinity Mirror – May 3, 2018, at Museum of London in Docklands – By RAY WEAVER


The new name for Trinity Mirror.

It evoked some lively discussions at the company’s AGM.

Chief executive Simon Fox explained the thinking behind the renaming.

He said the company became Trinity Mirror in 1997 but that name no longer “reflected the composition of the group”.

I suggested to Simon Fox that Reach is a strange name for a printing and publishing group. He told the roughly sixty shareholders present that “all the board liked it”. A member of the NUJ forcefully pointed out that “Reach is about nothing and doesn’t say anything about the newspaper business”. Simon Fox insisted that a lot of research had gone into the decision to rebrand as Reach, which was aimed at a younger audience.

One shareholder commented that BT had had problems with the public’s understanding of the name Open Reach, and thought TM might have similar problems with Reach. I asked about the cost of researching and deciding on the name. Simon Fox said it “didn’t cost very much”. Further pressed by another shareholder, he said “less than a few tens of thousands, probably less than £25,000”.

I thought, but didn’t say, that for £25,000 I probably could have come up with a better name!

**The numbers:
Adjusted operating profit was £124.7m for 2017

National titles advertising saw a decline of 9.8 per cent in 2017. This was represented by a 13.2 per cent decline in print and a 2.1 per cent increase in digital.

Circulation revenue will “see lower declines due to the benefit of cover-price increases”.

Current outlook and trading saw a drop in revenue of 9 per cent for the first two months of 2018.

Simon Fox was keen to look on the bright side:

  • Operating profit was up 20 per cent
  • Net debt reduced to £9million
  • Performance was in line with market expectations
  • TM was now the largest commercial digital news provider
  • Early in 2018 the contract to print The Guardian and Observer commenced. The company also prints the ‘i” newspaper, and Racing Post
  • The Competition & Market Authority inquiry (Phase 1) into TM takeover of the Express titles is expected to be completed by June 7
  • TM has a “talented and hardworking staff”

The company “has made good progress with its online audience”, TM having 33.4 million monthly views compared to MailOnline with 30.3m and The Sun 29.2m.

Digital revenue increased by 6.2 per cent, with display up by 17.6 per cent but classified revenue declining by 26.2 per cent.

A shareholder representing the NUJ stressed the “worrying decline of print revenue”. Simon Fox stated that the company would “protect print where we can”, and it would probably take 3-5 years to match the revenues from print and digital.

The shareholders unanimously thanked David Grigson, who is retiring, for his “excellent” chairmanship of the company over the past six years.

** AMP members will be able to read a full report on TM pensions deficits and funding plans in the upcoming Mirror Pensioner newsletter, available mid-May.


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