International expansion on the cards at transformed Future after strong sales growth

Bath-based media group Future has said it is on course to become a global player in its specialist markets after unveiling a 43% rise in annual revenues to £84.4m.

The group, which has undergone a major transformation over the past five years including shedding jobs in Bath, also achieved strong profits growth – turning last year’s pre-tax loss of just under £15m into a pre-tax profit of £200,000 for the 12 months to September 30. 

Over the year the group, whose titles span technology, games, music, film, photography, creative & design, field sports and science & knowledge, has continued its growth-through-acquisition policy.

During the year Future acquired Team Rock for £800,000 – a move which brought titles such as Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog into its portfolio – along with Imagine Publishing for £14.2m, which added 18 periodical magazines and 300 bookazines across the knowledge, history, science, games, tech and creative vertical.

It also paid £32m for Centaur Media’s home interest division adding the three key brands of Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living and Real Homes.

But it also expanded organically – with existing businesses achieving 8% growth over the year.

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne said its restructuring and refocus on digital products and associated events had paid off.

“Our strategy to diversify revenues through acquisition and organically has delivered substantial growth in both operating profitability and cash conversion,” she said.

“This has been driven by strong revenue performance in eCommerce and events, supported by our investment in digital assets and continued tight management of costs.

“Our three acquisitions during the financial year have further increased the size and range of our engaged communities. The integration of both Imagine and Team Rock has now been completed and Home Interest, acquired in early August, is progressing well.

“We are seeing clear momentum in our strategy to build a global platform business for specialist media with data at its heart, focused on enduring content that connects with our substantial and expanding audience base.”

Future, with key titles such as include Techradar, and T3, attracts a large global audience across online, events and print of 85m.

It described its audience as “passionate” and gave them “influential and market-leading brands [offering] our audiences the opportunity to do the things they love, through an exciting combination of experiences, unique content and eCommerce offerings”.

Revenue in its media division rose by 43% to £34.1m, of which 34% was organic growth. eCommerce increased 107% year-on-year to £8.9m and events grew 58% year-on-year to £5.2m, bolstered by acquisitions of £1.6m.

The group said it was focused on meeting its audience’s needs with specialised and high-quality content and experiences. This connection could occur wherever the audience is, it said, with strong engagement with users through a large social media reach of 31m followers across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and generating 7m sessions to the digital properties from social media.

“Our brands are market leading and we have seen significant audience growth of 18% year-on-year, reaching 53.3m online users. In the US, the 10% year-on-year growth in online users to 20.4m has resulted in an increase in our market share, particularly in technology.

“We are focused on enhancing and building the recurring revenue streams of online and print subscriptions and memberships, such as Team Rock+, PC Gamer Club and photography premium subscriptions. Membership gives users access to exclusive member content and offers. Across our online and print products we have over 500 thousand subscribers and members, up 26% year-on-year.”

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