Future suffers drop in consumer spending and audience figures


GoCompare owner Future expands market share for price comparison, but publisher suffers from decline in consumer spending and viewing figures

  • Future plc said annual adjusted operating profits will be in line with forecasts
  • The magazine publisher owns Country Life, FourFourTwo and Horse & Hound
  • Glasgow-born CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne will step down this year

Brands: Future plc publishes the popular women’s fashion magazine Marie Claire UK

Magazine owner Future has reiterated its expectations for the full year, despite a continued slowdown in viewership and consumer spending.

MoneyWeek and Marie Claire UK publishers told investors full-year adjusted operating profit is expected to be in line with guidance, rising 39 percent to £271.7 million in the 12 months ended September.

In the four months since that period, the FTSE 250 company said overall sales were “broadly” in line with forecasts, which it attributed to the “strength and diversity of the group.”

Future, the owner of GoCompare, increased market share in home and auto insurance. It also said it was “gaining momentum” with its segments of homes, fashion and beauty, and wealth and savings.

However, the company noted weaker readership and lower customer spend impacting growth in digital advertising and affiliate product revenues, especially within consumer technology titles.

Future also made two more acquisitions: South Carolina-based IT services company ActualTech and Gardening Know How, a US housing website.

Zillah Byng-Thorne, the company’s long-standing CEO, said: “We are pleased to reiterate our full year guidance.

“While the macroeconomic environment remains uncertain, we look ahead with continued confidence in our plans to deliver on our strategy and outperform the industry.”

The Glasgow boss plans to step down by the end of 2023 after nearly a decade in charge, having transformed the group from a struggling publisher on the verge of collapse into a £1.9 media powerhouse billion.

Her tenure began with a restructuring that saw hundreds of job cuts and the sale of Future’s sports, auto and craft titles, eventually returning the company to a modest profit in 2015.

She then expanded the company’s traditional printing business by acquiring numerous major publications, including football magazine FourFourTwo, Horse & Hound, and lifestyle brands Country Life and Ideal Home.

But, faced with a protracted decline in magazine circulation, Byng-Thorne also accelerated the company’s e-commerce, event and digital media offerings.

Two years ago, Future completed its biggest ever acquisition when it spent £594 million to buy GoCo Group, the owner of price comparison website GoCompare, energy saving service Weflip and coupon platform MyVoucherCodes.

This buying spree has paid off for the company, which has posted record profits and revenues for the past eight consecutive years.

Future Shares have also skyrocketed 17-fold since April 2014, when Byng-Thorne took over as CEO.

They closed 6.4 per cent lower at £15.06 on Wednesday, making them the second-biggest FTSE 250 faller behind health products maker PZ Cussons.