THE IRISH TIMES is reporting today that auditors of the company which owns the Letterkenny Post are concerned that it may not be viable as a going concern.
River Newspapers – owned mainly by the Fitzpatrick family and the Irish News in Belfast – claims its titles in the north-west are now trading profitably after the group officially recorded losses of €8.2 million in 2009 across 13 papers that it published at the time.
Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, co-founder and now minority shareholder Tim Collins said: “We now have six titles all trading well and in profit. The future is a lot brighter now than it was 18 months ago.”
Collins tells today’s paper the group has been significantly restructured. It now publishes seven newspapers: the Letterkenny, Donegal, Finn Valley, County Derry and Kildare Posts, the Inish Times and the Derry News.
More than 130 people have been fired, leaving just 70,
Accounts filed recently for River Newspapers Holdings Ltd show it took a provision of €4.6 million in 2009 against amounts due from subsidiaries that had ceased trading.
The company had accumulated losses of just more than €5 million and a deficit in its reserves of €3.5 million.
Its accounts show that the entity behind the Letterkenny Post recorded a loss of €4.1 million while the Donegal Post lost €1 million.
Its title in Monaghan, which has closed, lost €693,946.
River Newspapers’ auditors, Flannigan Edmonds Bannon, qualified its opinion in the accounts and cast doubts on its ability to continue as a going concern.
Mr Collins claimed these issues have been addressed.
River Newspapers closed the Sligo, Meath and Cavan Posts last year as part of the company’s restructuring programme.
River Newspapers was founded in 2005 by Mr Collins and Pádraig O’Dwyer. It has since been substantially owned by Jim and Dominic Fitzpatrick, owners of the Irish News.
All four businessmen are also investors in a number of local radio stations, some of which have made losses.