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DC Thomson: Publisher has platform for growth after pandemic impact

The DC Thomson building in Dundee city centre.
The DC Thomson building in Dundee city centre.

Scottish media group DC Thomson said its latest financial accounts show “resilience, strength and stability”.

Headquartered in Dundee, the family-firm publishes newspapers and magazines. It has also diversified into new media, digital technology, retail and television interests.

Newly filed accounts for the year ending March 31 2021, reflect a year significantly impacted by Covid-19.

The group’s revenue fell to £160.2m from £180.4 million in 2020, largely due to lower publication sales and advertising revenues at the start of the pandemic.

However, the rebound of the stock market led to an investment gain of £350m. The company’s pre-tax profits for 2021 were £338.7m.

DC Thomson investing in technology and talent

Chairman Christopher Thomson said: “Despite the challenges of the first pandemic year, the picture that our financial results shows is one of resilience, strength and stability.

“This is testament to the hard work of our colleagues across the business and we are seeing good revenue recovery.

“We have confidence that our subscriber and membership strategies are the right ones and are already seeing good engagement and growth.

“We are transforming our media business, investing in technology and talent and building loyal communities by informing, entertaining and delighting our audiences.”

DC Thomson owns newspapers The Courier and Evening Telegraph in Dundee, The Press and Journal and Evening Express in Aberdeen and The Sunday Post.

Its magazine brands include Puzzler, The People’s Friend, My Weekly and The Beano.

Other interests include genealogy business Find My Past, cloud computing specialist Brightsolid, radio stations and contract printing.

Platform for growth

The company, which employs 1,600, said digital revenues and subscriptions helped mitigate the fall in advertising and events revenue and continue to significantly increase.

Meanwhile its transformation programme gathered pace.

Its vast comic archive – with assets such as Bananaman and Dennis the Menace – is set to be made into films and television series through a new production company, Emanata Studios.

Dennis the Menace, Bananaman and Will Smith, who is developing an Emanta Studios project.

Earlier this month Rebecca Miskin was appointed chief executive of DC Thomson’s media portfolio.

Mr Thomson said: “The strategy built during this challenging period now gives the business a platform for transformational growth.

“In the first six months of this year, to 30 September 2021, the business has recovered significant revenues over the same period last year.”

Genealogy business Findmypast, which continues to be run separately, has digitised the 1921 England and Wales census, to be published in early 2022.

This is the biggest digitisation project that the National Archives has ever undertaken.

Long history of publishing

DC Thomson has its origins in shipping entrepreneur of William Thomson in the early 19th century.

During the mid-19th century, the Thomson family invested in publishing, taking an interest in the Dundee Courier and buying it in 1886.

At that stage there were two major publishing houses in Dundee. The other was run by Sir John Leng.

Findmypast is owned by DC Thomson.

In 1905, the Thomson and Leng firms merged under the leadership of William Thomson’s son David Couper (D.C.) Thomson.

Throughout the 20th century, DC Thomson became one of the UK’s leading publishers.

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