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East Anglia: Archant’s performance ‘meeting expectations’ in spite of difficult conditions

PUBLISHED: 15:57 06 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:57 06 August 2014

Simon Bax, chairman of Archant

Simon Bax, chairman of Archant

Johnny Greig

The chairman of Archant, the UK regional publisher whose titles include the East Anglian Daily Times, says its current performance is broadly in line with expectations and that the company should be debt-free by the end of 2014.

Writing to shareholders in lieu of an interim statement, and after changes in the firm’s senior management, Simon Bax said he hoped to be able to announce a replacement for chief executive Adrian Jeakings, who stepped down in July after 12 years, shortly.

He praised Mr Jeakings for leading the firm through “an extremely difficult period for the entire industry”. He “worked tirelessly” to transform the group and left it in good shape financially and with an excellent management team, he said.

After the appointment, the firm will complete a strategic review of the business, he added.

Archant was “a very special company, with a strong set of values and a reputation for integrity and trust that is deeply rooted in the communities that it serves”, he wrote.

The company was undergoing a lot of change as it adapts to the structural challenges facing the industry, he said, but believed it was moving in the right direction, and expected reported numbers to be at similar levels to last year.

“There is an energy and an enthusiasm that is palpable. We can be proud of the strong brands that make up the group and be confident in their future.”

It was a difficult operating environment, but a number of initiatives were beginning to show results, and cash performance remained strong. He anticipated that would continue in the second half, and having no bank debt at year end.

“Unfortunately, our long running dispute with HMRC continues and we do not expect this to be concluded in 2014.”

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