Circulation boost, but Johnston Press revenues fall

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

Johnston Press — owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper and the Yorkshire Post — said its group revenues year-on-year were down 5.1% for the 17 week period to October 29.

But Johnston Press said circulation revenues year-on-year increased 18.8% for the 17 week period, with October up 22.5%, reflecting strong circulation volumes from the i newspaper.

It said the i newspaper “has grown its market share from 18.5% to over 20% of the quality newspaper segment.”

Johnston Press said digital advertising revenues (excluding classifieds) returned to growth of 8.4% in October but were 2.8% down for the 17 week period as a whole.

Combined print and digital advertising revenues excluding classifieds, “which were particularly affected by tough trading conditions earlier this year, were down 6.8% for the 17 week period, (3.5% down in October), having been down 9.2% in H1,” said Johnston Press in its trading update.

It said “transactional revenues” — telesales out of its media sales centre — including BMDs, public notices and other small classifieds, were down 4.3% for the 17 weeks, (2.8% down in October), having been down 7.2% in H1. 

It said the classified categories of employment, property and motors, were down 31.9% for the 17 week period “impacted by the structural shift in the market and now represent less than 16% of total group revenues in October.”

Johnston Press said digital audience growth remained a priority “and the number of digital unique users has grown on average from 20.3 million to 23.1 million per month for September year-on-year.”

The company added: “Following the successful disposal of the Isle of Man titles in August, we continue to explore opportunities for further divestment, and will provide an update when appropriate.  

“We remain focused on cutting costs to mitigate revenue declines and the impact of sterling weakness on paper prices, and assuming no further deterioration in trading conditions, the board expects performance to continuein line with expectations.”