Zimpapers poised for growth, profitability

deketekeBusiness Reporter
LISTED media group Zimbabwe Newspapers is firmly poised for growth and further dominance of the media industry after reversing its 2014 full- year loss to profitability.

Group chief executive Mr Pikirayi Deketeke told the group’s annual general meeting yesterday that new innovative electronic and digital products would bolster growth.

The CEO said prospects looked bright with the group expected to register $1,1 million profit in the interim to June.

Zimpapers, he said, had invested significantly in business development, introducing strategies that will enable it to maximise returns from newspaper publishing.

Mr Deketeke said that while publishing remained the anchor, numbers were declining as people now spend more time on digital platforms – mobile phones or computers.

In fact, Mr Dekekete said mobile news was the fastest growing platform with the group now sitting on over 300 000 subscribers, reflecting the growing importance of the digital era.

“People are spending more time reading us on computers and mobile phones, so we need to develop a model that speaks to that new audience,” Mr Deketeke said.

“In a nutshell, what we are saying is that the future has to be made up of a lot of things. It has to be print, electronic and it has to be digital.”

As such, Zimpapers has collapsed its editorial and commercial operations and technology into one to ensure that there is convergence in the group’s diverse offerings.

Already, Zimpapers has embraced the digital age through digital platforms such as BH24, SportsZone, social media and news hub and has also gone into a non-traditional domain, the electronic media industry, after setting up Star FM radio station.

It has also secured a licence for another radio station, Diamond FM, set for Mutare and is setting up a TV station, as it spreads its tentacles in the broadcasting field.

From a single newspaper, The Herald, in 1891, Zimbabwe’s only listed media group has grown exponentially to include three dailies, six weeklies and two magazines in terms of publishing.

It publishes The Herald, The Sunday Mail, Chronicle, Manica Post, Sunday News, H-Metro, Umthunywa, B-Metro, Kwayedza, two magazines – ZimTravel and Bridal – and also publishes a regional weekly, Southern Times, under joint venture.

The content will be sold across different media platforms of internet, newspaper and broadcasting. Newspapers have been segmented into daily, weekly, quality and popular markets to cater for different tastes and extract maximum value.

The group aggregates the news content and audiences to maximise returns with focus on content, which has seen more advertisers coming on board.

“Resultantly, we will increase our revenue streams. So, there will be more advertising dollars and more audiences on our different platforms,” Mr Deketeke said.

“We have looked at the figures, for this year I would like to say the picture is not as bad as last year. Already, we are sitting on a profit of around $635 000 and projecting $1,1 million by June this year; we think that it will be better year,” he said.

The group is also looking to capitalise on the huge interest in breakfast meetings on various economic issues where people have been willing to pay in order to attend them, which presents a potentially lucrative revenue stream.

Increased investment in business development and innovation will also see the group launching what it calls suburban newspapers, which are common worldwide.

“People are looking at what they call hyper local content. People in Borrowdale might want to read about what happened next door and might not be interested in what happens in Tsholotsho. So, how do you talk to that audience?”

The group will respond by packaging its various news products with information about what happens in the particular localities such as real estate and sport activities.

Mr Deketeke said the group will look to convert its age old assets, including Typocrafters (cheque printing) and Natprint (commercial label printing) into new businesses.

As such, the group will refocus and realign operations, recapitalise its units and build stronger brands that reflect fresh value and generate good returns for shareholders.

In order to grow the bottom line, the group also undertook staff rationalisation, which has seen it cutting the cost to revenue ratio to 40 percent from 49 percent. The objective is to cut the ratio further down to 30 percent in the near term.

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