Media giant Fairfax will close or sell 35 per cent of its New Zealand print titles as the Australian group pursues a digital strategy for the Kiwi unit, now rebranded Stuff.
The Fairfax Media Ltd. logo.
Group chief executive Greg Hywood, who recently oversaw the demerger of the Domain real estate listing website in Australia, today said the Sydney-based company will exit just over a third of its New Zealand suit of print publications, which includes Wellington's Dominion Post, Christchurch's Press, Hamilton's Waikato Times, and the Sunday Star Times.
Slated for closure or sale are 28 regional giveaway newspapers and agricultural publications. Its major metropolitan and regional city newspapers are not in the extensive list of small-scale publications that Fairfax wishes to quit.
Fairfax's New Zealand media revenue fell 4.5 per cent to $160 million in the six months ended December 31, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation sank 24 per cent to $20.7m.
Of that, print advertising sales dropped 15 per cent to $77.2m, while print subscriptions slipped 4.3 per cent to $48.8m. Digital revenue jumped 33 per cent to $24.2m.
"We have enormous confidence that Stuff is heading towards sustained growth as its digital business continues its strong momentum," Mr Hywood said.
Fairfax has written down its New Zealand mastheads to just $175.2m as at June 30, 2017 from as much as $1.12 billion when the one-time Australian family-owned media group purchased the Kiwi business from Rupert Murdoch's Independent Newspapers Ltd in 2003.
Fairfax's ASX-listed shares last traded at 66 Australian cents and have dropped 15 per cent so far this year.
FAIRFAX PAPERS SLATED FOR SALE OR CLOSURE:
Avenues, Waikato Farmer, Admire Marlborough, NZ Dairy Farmer, Discover Magazine, Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook, Admire Nelson, Hastings Mail, Christchurch Mail, Napier Mail, The Tribune, Kaikoura Star, Invercargill Eye, Auto Xtra, South Canterbury Herald, Clutha Leader, Waiheke Marketplace, NewsLink, Wairarapa News, Queenstown Mirror, NZ Farmer, Waitaki Herald, Canterbury Farmer, North Waikato News, Central District Farmer, Rotorua Review, Otago Southland Farmer, Ruapehu Press.