The company which was bought by the Sekunjalo-led consortium amidst an outcry from the established media houses in 2013, own some of the country’s premium publications, including The Star and Cape Times.
The ABC figures showed that the Independent Media group year on year grew its share of the dailies market by 2.7percent, up from 31.6percent in the first quarter of 2016 to 34.3percent in the first quarter of this year and a healthy 2.5percent of the weekend market, from 27.3percent to 29.8percent, for the same period.
Independent Media chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé said the implementation of a new business strategy, and investments in technology, coupled with bringing together a team of skilled industry specialists had set the company on a growth path.
“To achieve this kind of performance in an environment where Times Media Group, Media24 and Caxton titles are all showing a decline, is indicative of the strategy that we have put in place”, said Survé. In a daily newspaper market that declined 11.2percent year-on-year and by 1.1 percent in the prevous quarter, Independent’s Pretoria News, Cape Times and Isolezwe outshone their competitors in each of the company’s key areas of operation.
Pretoria News put in an impressive performance with a growth in circulation of 3.6percent - from a circulation of 14515 copies in the last quarter of 2016 to 15038 in the first quarter of this year. This was boosted by the increase in single copy sales.
Independent’s flagship publication, The Star, stood its ground with a modest increase of just 1percent. In the Cape, the Cape Times recorded a circulation growth of 1.4percent, from 30781copies in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 31212copies in the first quarter of 2017.
Of significance is the growth in its single copy sales, which increased by 1208 copies.
Isolezwe, South Africa’s largest vernacular daily, grew by an impressive 5.2percent, from 90724 in the last quarter of 2016 to 95430 in the period under review, while its sister Saturday publication Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo surged ahead with a growth of 7.2percent, from 69387copies in the fourth quarter of last year to 74365 copies in the first quarter of this year.
Other notable performance from the Independent stable included The Mercury, which grew by its circulation by 460 copies year-on-year and Independent on Saturday grew by 701 in the last quarter of 2016.
The Cape duo Weekend Argus publications showed a quarter-on-quarter increase of 1.7percent, from 52005 copies to 52 870 copies. Pretoria News Saturday showed a very encouraging 19percent year-on-year increase in circulation of 1425 copies, which was boosted by a positive increase in business subscriptions.
While Independent has steadily been growing its market share, its competitors had shed readers.
Times Media Group lost 2.3percent of the dailies and 2.4percent of the weekend market. Media24 and Caxton’s performance remained fairly static during this period.
Dr Survé said while the group’s online platforms had been showing good, consistent growth, the media house continued to value its print readership.
“The good performance can also be attributed to the editorial leadership which has changed significantly over the past few years. Our editors are in touch with their readers and have introduced innovative ways to connect them”, said Dr Survé.
Independent Media has a stable of 25 newspaper and magazine publications in South Africa and a print and online audience of approximately 10million.