INCREASED investment towards tapping digital opportunities remains the anchor for the growth of Zimpapers (1980) Limited, the country’s leading integrated media group, as it seeks to diversify operations and broaden revenue base.
Despite the challenging media environment in the face of prevailing inflationary pressures in the economy, board chair, Mr Tommy Sithole said the company was geared for more positive growth, riding on revamped operations and implementation of new strategies.
He said Zimpapers was consolidating its digital footprint, taking advantage of the changing news consumption habits of audiences. This is inspired by global trends where there is growing audience shift towards digital media platforms with increased usage of social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook.
“The board and management is focused on initiatives that improve the company’s product portfolio in the wake of disruptive technologies. Focus will remain on the digitalisation strategy and new projects as the company diversifies to broaden its revenue base,” said Mr Sithole in a statement accompanying the group’s financial results for the half year period ended 30 June 2019.
This drive comes at a time the group is recording steady growth, with a 63 percent revenue increase to $32,9 million in the first half of 2019, compared to $20,2 million in the prior comparable period.
The company’s gross profit margin improved by 70 percent to $22 million compared to 64 percent for 2018. The group also managed to maintain a solid asset base valued at $46,7 million compared to $38,9 million in the prior period against total liabilities of $29 million.
However, Mr Sithole said both revenue growth and gross profit were below the official inflation rate of 175,6 percent. He attributed this to the fact that the company could not increase either sales volume or selling price to match inflation levels owing to the liquidity challenges obtaining in the economy.
“Therefore, below inflation revenue growth was recorded across all the divisions, with significant growth being recorded from the commercial printing division,” said Mr Sithole.
According to the report, the newspaper division recorded a 52 percent growth in revenue to $21,1 million from $14,1 million recorded in the same period last year. The commercial printing division recorded 100 percent revenue growth to $7 million due to increased market share.
Meanwhile, the radio broadcasting division recorded 58 percent growth in revenue to $3,5 million on the back of market consolidation.
The board of directors could not declare an interim dividend citing the need to finance new business growth initiatives and service legacy statutory obligations.
Zimpapers produces a range of media products with daily publications such as The Chronicle and The Herald, weeklies such as Sunday Mail, Business Weekly and Sunday News, tabloids H-Metro and B-Metro and vernacular papers uMthunywa and Kwayedza. Other publications include Manica Post, Zimtravel, Suburban and Bridal Magazine. The digital arena has MobileNews, BH24, Zimpapers Newshub and SportsZone.
On the broadcasting section the groups runs StarFM, Diamond FM, Capitalk and the newly established, Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN).