Andrew Miller, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, added that there was "much work to be done" but that the newspapers had seen a 16.3% improvement in digital revenues to £45.7m. Of that total, digital advertising was up by 26% to £14.7m, with other digital revenues stemming from services such as Soulmates dating.
The publisher said that with the help of its free newspaper websites, the number two on Fleet Street after Mail Online, Guardian News & Media reaches 5.8 million people a week via print and digital, 300,000 more than the Times titles. A further 17,000 people pay for the Guardian's £9.99 a month iPad app, while an unspecified number pay for the Kindle equivalent.
The Guardian sold 211,511 copies a day in June, the last month for which figures are available, down 10.7% on the year on a like-for-like basis, while the Observer sold 243,946, a reduction of 10%. Print advertising shrunk 4%, reflecting what Miller described as a "tough market", at £43.7m.
However, the historic high cost base relative to sales, coupled with the need for digital investments meant GNM operating losses before exceptional items and amortisation hit £44.2m compared with £31.1m a year ago. Executives said 2011/12 is intended to represent a high water mark for losses at the beginning of a five-year transformation plan that aims to bring the newspapers' losses down to a sustainable level. The cost of the exceptionals and amortisation were not spelled out but the figure contains a contribution to corporate overheads and software write-offs."