Ready for a new step
The rapid digitization of our society has a huge impact on the media sector. The interest in news and entertainment has never been so great, which offers fantastic opportunities for media companies. But digitization also poses enormous challenges for the sector: customer needs are changing, the business model is being changed and competition with digital global players is increasing every day. These are many things we have to keep up with. In such an environment it is essential to have a clear strategy based on a simple vision and mission. Hopefully this annual report provides a good insight into how we work and look to the future.
Information, entertainment and service have always been the basic ingredients of media. Our media are made by professionals who are passionate about their profession. They work with love and respect for the audience they serve. That is where our strength lies. We are convinced that this is how we make a difference in today’s digital world. We want to bring quality and we want to be worthy of the trust of our audience, on all platforms, online and offline.
Everywhere we see that traditional forms of media use are slightly declining in favour of digital media. However, offline media remain very important, also financially. We therefore continue to cherish them, but the growth is in the digital, where most of our investments go. The digital development of our media runs mainly along three axes: ‘premium platforms’ for our quality newspapers that are only accessible to paying subscribers, ‘freemium platforms’ for our news media that aim at a wide audience with a mixture of paying and free news, and ‘video-on-demand platforms’ for the digital distribution of television.
“Our media are made by professionals who are passionate about their profession. They work with love and respect for the audience they serve. That is where our strength lies.”
Christian Van Thillo, CEO De Persgroep
Sales of digital subscriptions continue to grow strongly and that was also the case for the revenue from online advertisements. Our group is investing heavily in automated sales of advertisements with a strong focus on technology and data. With HLN.be, AD.nl and BT.dk we have news sites that reach seven million people every day – with a strong content offering and an ideal context for advertisers. We still expect good growth here in the coming years.
In addition to reinventing the core in our publishing and audiovisual activities, we have also worked hard to develop a strong branch of online services. We mainly did this through a series of small and medium-sized acquisitions, the most important of which was the acquisition of Independer, the Netherlands’ largest comparison site for insurance and financial services. We also have similar platforms in energy, construction and renovation and consumer electronics that help people make the best choices when buying products and services. We are also active in job vacancy sites and car sites, and we also offer telecom services for young people. Online services are an important growth engine for the group from which we expect a lot in the coming years. It is a business that perfectly matches the core activities of our group.
The group’s financial results were again good. Turnover and profitability have grown nicely and with a net cash flow of 185 million euros, we have the means to invest further in the expansion of our company. In the Netherlands, we want to further accelerate the successful digital transformation. The integration of Independer also becomes an important point of attention. In Belgium, all attention is focused on combining the power of radio, television, news media, magazines and online into a true multimedia company. Finally, in Denmark we want to further shape the fairly radical digital strategy that was used so successfully in 2018.
With everything we did last year, we are well on schedule to achieve our objective in the slightly longer term. After all, by the end of 2020 we want to show organic growth in our three core activities. I am confident that we will succeed in this. We have a fantastic portfolio of strong brands and passionate, ambitious collaborators. We have also drawn up a new management structure. We have attracted very talented people to key positions that we still had to fill. It must enable us to manage this company – which has become larger and more complex in recent years – more effectively and efficiently.
‘Building the future’ is the title of this annual report. We do that literally in Antwerp where the new headquarters will be ready in September 2019. Hence the image on the cover of this annual report. We are ready for a new step in the great adventure of De Persgroep that started 30 years ago.
I would like to again sincerely thank all our collaborators for their efforts during a year that was again very successful for De Persgroep.
Christian Van Thillo,
CEO De Persgroep