RJR Group chops staff

“Companies in the RJRGLEANER Communications Group on Friday, December 11, completed a reorganisation exercise primarily driven by the negative impact of the Coronavirus 2019 Disease (COVID-19) and the need for continued changes as the global media and communications industry continues its transformation,” a release from the group states.
“The exercise which was done over several months saw some positions being made redundant, impacting 107 workers, five of them being managers, the release stated.” In May, the Group reported, “due to a significant downturn in revenues in some areas of its business, it had been forced to lay off almost 100 workers for 120 days. While there has been some improvement in the last few months, revenues have still not returned to pre-COVID levels.”
“During the period, the company also reorganised and reoriented several of its business units and approaches, to be more agile, more competitive and more efficient. They complimented changes which see the Radio and Television areas of the Group being managed as a broadcast division, with the print and online units now managed as an integrated print and online division.”
“The Group’s technology activities have also been brought together in a technology division focused on the full digitalization of the Group’s operations and the enabling of a higher level of digital output.”
“This focus has seen investments in new management, customer relationship and production systems that will improve customer tracking and servicing, provide data analytics to aid management decisions, as well as delivering data analytics to clients to assist in decision making.”
“There has also been investment in new data management and publication systems to improve the consumer experience with our electronic publications, whilst increasing revenue-generating opportunities.”
“Tighter planning and elements of publication rationalization along the lines driven by closer data analytics have improved aspects of print and online operations. A new digital marketing and sales unit is developed to accelerate business growth in the Gleaner’s print and online business.”
“The Overseas publications have been revamped with a discontinuation of the weekly printing of newspapers in the United States and Canada, in favor of electronic publications, with special printed and online publications being done around special diaspora events.”

RJR shareholders at the 2019 AGM at the Jamaica Pegasus

“In broadcast, the local programming content strategy which has served Television Jamaica well, prior to and through the pandemic will continue to be built upon as TVJ is poised and ready to take advantage of the imminent announcement of the change from analogue television broadcasting to digital terrestrial television broadcasting in Jamaica.” The switch to digital broadcasts will provide consumers with multiple high quality television services from TVJ and further reduce operating cost.
“The group continued its focus on the diversification pillar of its strategy which has seen a minority stake of 10% taken up in digital marketing player ePost Caribbean Limited at the end of November, and an increase in the group’s equity position in Jamaica Holdings LLC, operator of e-commerce business, Gustazos to 50%, to be effective this month.”
“The Group is confident that with this reorganization and other activities, it is poised for growth and strengthening in 2021 and beyond,” the release from the group concludes.
Bad news oftentimes results in big investment gains down the road. In fact, investors must be seeing this when they drove the stock up from $1.12 at the end of the prior week to $1.28 on Friday, as the week close with limited selling of the stock.
ICInsider.com estimates that the redundancy exercise will save the group between $100-250 million in a full year. In the meantime, revenue in the print division is down sharply from 2019, but the electronic segments are holding their own.
The group reported a profit of $2 million in the June quarter but a loss before tax of $96 million for the halfyear to September. Depreciation in the first quarter of $67 million surged to $210 million in the second quarter, with the charge in the print division jumping from $11 million to $104 million for an increase of $93 million, due no doubt to an acceleration in write off of fixed assets at the newsprint division.
The print division generated revenues of $437 million in the June quarter, down from $722 million in 2019 and incurred a loss of $55 million for the 2020 period. Revenues increased $123 million in the September quarter over the June quarter to reach $560 million, yet was still lower than the $722 million garnered in 2019 September quarter, resulting in a loss of $154 million in the 2020 quarter, due mainly to redundancy and the increase depreciation charges.
To September 2020, the Audio-Visual division saw profit almost doubling from $84 million to $160 million, with revenues up marginally from $1.041 billion to $1.046 billion, while the Audio segment experienced a drop in revenues from $362 million to $325 million resulting in a loss of $11 million in 2019 rising to a $12 million loss.
The group generated positive cash flows from operations even after receivables rose by $116 million and cash on hand ended at $398 million, up from $253 million at the end of September 2019.
While results to march 2021 may well show a loss resulting more from one-off charges than from continuing operating performance.

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