Publisher Emap has said strong performances by UK magazines such as Closer, Heat and Zoo have kept it on course to meet expectations for the year.

The company, which runs Birmingham-based radio station Kerrang!105.2, said yesterday underlying group revenues in the six months to September 30 were expected to be one per cent higher than last year.

They were helped by a three-per-cent rise in like-forlike sales at its UK consumer magazines.

That came despite a weaker UK performance from Smash Hits and Emap's automotive titles such as Max Power. Revenues have also been lower in France.

In a trading update ahead of its interim results scheduled for November, Emap said: "Having reached the halfway stage of the year in what is undoubtedly a tough environment, current trading indicates that the group remains on track to deliver in line with expectations."

In radio, Emap said it expected to outperform the advertising market in the first half of the year, up two per cent.

National airtime was up six per cent, reflecting Emap's ability to reach wider audiences than its competitors, primarily through its digital offering, while local airtime experienced a nine per cent decline.

Its radio stations also include Kiss and Magic.

Analysts are forecasting pre-tax profits to come in at around £222 million, compared with £205 million last time.

In July, Emap told its annual meeting that there had been an "encouraging" start to the financial year led by good growth in consumer magazine circulation in the UK.

Figures showed consumer magazine circulation revenues were up two per cent in the UK, while advertising in such publications was up five per cent.

It cited "strong growth" in titles such as Closer, Heat, Zoo and Match, and the successful launch of Graze in February with sales of more than 155,000 a week. Together, Heat and Closer sell more than1.1 million copies a week.

But problems continued in recruitment advertising, especially at the Nursing Times, where advertising volumes were down 30 per cent.