Standard Group's Mombasa Road Headquarters. The firm took a hit in 2020 as firms cut advertising budgets during the pandemic.
Standard Group's Mombasa Road Headquarters. The firm took a hit in 2020 as firms cut advertising budgets during the pandemic.

Standard Group Plc on Friday, April 30 published its audited results for the full year ended December 31, 2020.

The media firm posted a whooping Ksh434 million pre-tax loss, down from Ksh684 million in 2019 – representing a 36 per cent decline. Like other major players in the media industry, Standard Group was affected by reduced advertising as firms trimmed marketing costs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Revenue slid 29 per cent to Ksh2.9 billion, from Ksh4.1 billion the previous year. Their biggest rival – Nation Media Group (NMG), saw net profit slide 95% to Ksh48 million in 2020 from Ksh865 million in 2019.

“The Group’s performance was against a difficult environment for the media industry. The industry experienced a decline in amounts spent by most of the clients as they put in place cost-cutting measures as a response to the pandemic,” noted Company Secretary Millicent Ng’etich.

Standard Group further highlighted the tough operating environment since the onset of the pandemic, citing its effects on the economy and the 0.3% contraction in Kenya’s GDP recorded in 2020 as per the World Bank.

The firm reacted by implementing cost-cutting measures that resulted in operating expenses reducing 31% from Ksh4.6 billion in 2019 to Ksh3.2 billion last year.

Standard hit the headlines on multiple occasions in 2020 after undertaking lay-offs across various departments. In March 2020, about 170 workers at the company lost their jobs after their positions were declared redundant.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu at a past event. The firm sent several employees home in 2020 as part of cost-cutting measures in response to the pandemic.
Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu at a past event. The firm sent several employees home in 2020 as part of cost-cutting measures in response to the pandemicS

CEO Orlando Lyomu at the time noted that the painful job cuts were necessary as the firm was restructuring in line with it’s convergence plan – meant to deliver synergy and leadership in the digital space – and further cited the prevailing economic climate.

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“The media industry has been on a slippery slope even before the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of digital disruptions…It is a case of the ship going down yet you have a few lifeboats, you must make a decision either way,’” he stated on a radio interview on Spice FM in July 2020.

More employees across several departments, including print, production and commercial, were sent home towards the end of the year.

“The Group consequently put in place stringent cost-cutting measures leading to a total operating costs reduction of 31% driven by a drop in direct costs and overheads of 44% and 25% respectively,” the firm noted while announcing the full year results.

It expressed confidence of a positive outlook in 2021, citing efforts to strengthen its digital, print and broadcast offerings. The group is behind KTN News, KTN Home, Farmers TV, KTN Burudani, Standard Newspaper, The Nairobian, Raidio Maisha and Spice FM as well as corresponding digital platforms.

“The board and management continue to invest in the growth of digital platforms, products and revenues while strengthening print and broadcast platforms.

“Towards this end, the Group launched the first converged newsroom in the country which aims to focus on better content and a digital first approach. We are therefore confident we will deliver the right products to our customers, our readers, our listeners and our viewers as we work towards remaining profitable,” Standard Group noted.

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