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Trinity Mirror's lay-offs figure rises to 800

LONDON - Trinity Mirror has revealed plans to cut 800 jobs after announcing a drop in profits due to the volatile advertising market.

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Reports early this morning said that the group would cut 750 jobs over three years, but by mid-morning the company confirmed that 800 jobs would go. Of these, 85 will be in the digital media division.

The company, which publishes the Daily Mirror, Sunday People, the Racing Post and a host of regional papers, said that revenue for the entire group for the six months ending July 1 was 1.1% up on the same period a year ago.

However, operating profit before a £15m investment in digital media and other exceptional items, decreased by 6.5% to £121.8m.

National newspapers saw a 17.5% decline in operating profit to £45.7m during the period, and circulation revenue fell by 3.4% to £109.2m. Advertising revenue for the national titles was volatile, and an increase of 7.5% in the first quarter was followed by a decline of 2.9% in the second quarter.

In March, Trinity closed its main icShowbiz and icSports sites, ditched the development of its icChoice site and restructured its entire internet section. Since then, 13 regional sites have been launched and integrated with the group's regional newspaper operations.

The internet closures and a restructuring of the group's financial systems led to a £5.3m exceptional cost during the period, and debts were £771.8m -- an increase of £3.6m since the end of the year.

Regional newspapers performed relatively well, with revenue up by 4.4% to £273.4m and profit up by 4.3% to £65.3m. Advertising revenue grew by 6.5% to £212.1m, driven largely by strong recruitment advertising.

Analysts expect the regional papers to be increasingly harder hit as sources of advertising revenue dry up.

Looking forward, the company said that advertising conditions remained volatile and outlook is uncertain.

A group statement said, "While classified advertising has held up reasonably well, there are signs of a tightening in the recruitment advertising market and a more general slowdown in growth rates in other categories of classified advertising.

"The market for display advertising has been weak throughout the second quarter of the year. However, while this has continued into July, there are currently no signs of acceleration in decline."

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