Bermuda Press posts half-year loss
Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd made a net loss of $110,000 for the six months ended March 31, 2020.
Operating revenues fell by $402,000 year over year to $11.09 million, as the group's publishing and retail, commercial printing and real estate divisions all pulled in less income.
The loss broke down to eight cents per share and compared to a profit of $285,000, or 20 cents per share, for the corresponding period a year earlier.
The Bermuda Stock Exchange-listed company's board of directors opted to suspend the regular seven cents per share dividend, starting with the quarter ended March 31, “as a result of the economic impact Covid-19 has had on business operations”.
BPHL, parent company of The Royal Gazette, said the publishing and retail division saw a 2 per cent, or $150,000 decrease in revenue. BPHL attributed the fall to “the slowdown in the Bermuda economy, closure of business in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and changing consumer behaviours”.
Commercial printing revenue dipped 9 per cent, or $177,000, decrease amid “downward pressure” on the traditional printing market, as well as pandemic- related business closures.
BPHL said rental revenue also fell by 5 per cent, or $66,000.
This was mainly because of a long-term tenant vacating a portion of the first floor of the Crown House office building on Par-la-Ville Road.
Rental income was also impacted by a first-floor vacancy at Roger Davidson House on Reid Street from October 2019.
However, BPHL said a new tenant was secured for the space, effective April 1, 2020.
In its interim report to shareholders, BPHL said: “Your company's management is working tirelessly to find operating efficiencies and ways to further reduce operating costs to offset the most recent slowdown in the economy and navigating through the impacts of Covid-19.
The statement added: “Your company's management and board continue to review operating results of all divisions to ensure that loss-making businesses are not being funded at the expense of our shareholders.”
BPHL's real estate holdings were the most profitable segment with an overall occupancy rate of 92 per cent, with 57 occupied by third-party tenants.
Other highlights noted by the company included The Royal Gazette becoming the title sponsor of The Royal Gazette Bermuda Triple Challenge, a road-running event comprising a one-mile race, a 10k and a marathon or half-marathon over a January weekend.
BPHL said: “This event provided a significant opportunity for The Royal Gazette to connect with the local community and showcase our publishing and branding capabilities.”
BPHL added that The Royal Gazette has selected the Naviga platform for its “Digital First” initiative “to ensure it retains its place as the leader of independent journalism in Bermuda within an increasingly digital world”.
The statement added that the newspaper had “successfully set up a remote working environment for its staff to maintain its high level of news coverage for Bermuda through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another BPHL company, the Stationery Store, successfully launched a retail website to help maintain operations during pandemic-related restrictions on businesses.
BPHL's print operations launched social-distancing signage campaigns “to expand its presence in the large-format space on the island”, the company said.