Johnston Press — owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper and the Yorkshire Post — issued a trading update on Friday ahead of its annual general meeting on May 22, saying that a good performance from the i newspaper helped its revenues edge up 0.2%.
However it said that excluding the i, total revenues were down 12%.
For the 17 week period from January 1, 2017 to April 30, 2017, Johnston said digital advertising revenues (excluding classified) were up 10% — and that including classifieds, digital revenues were up 3%.
Regional press specialist Johnston, which owns more than 200 local titles, said on-network digital audiences were up 11% to 26 million, with average page views up 17%.
“The i newspaper continues to perform well, with newspaper sales volumes (excluding bulks) up 4% in the 12 months since acquisition, circulation revenues up 23% and average website unique users grew 12% from February 2017 to March 2017 …” said Johnston.
“Circulation volumes of key daily newspapers, The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, continue to improve, while other large dailies have also seen some improvement, including the Sheffield Star, Yorkshire Evening Post and the Edinburgh Evening News …
“The board notes that trading conditions for regional newspapers in the UK remain challenging and, while encouraged by improving trends across the group, the management team continues to take actions to manage its costs tightly.”
The firm added: “The trends seen in the first quarter, as set out in the announcement of the group’s 2016 results on 29 March 2017, have continued and the Board expects trading for the full year to be in line with market expectations.”
On May 15, Johnston Press said that following consultations with shareholders, its proposed new directors’ remuneration policy would be changed to reduce the bonus potential for its executive directors.