Johnston Press in talks to sell titles

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

Johnston Press — owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper and the Yorkshire Post — said it is in late stage discussions with Cambridge-based Iliffe Media surrounding the potential disposal of certain Johnston Press titles.

Johnston Press said it previously announced that “a number of brands had been identified that were not part of its long-term future and a process has been initiated to explore the potential sale of these assets to identified parties.” 

The company said this disposal process was ongoing “and a further announcement will be made when appropriate.”

“Shareholders are advised that there can be no certainty that the disposal process will lead to any definitive agreements concerning any possible disposals or as to the timing or terms of any such agreements,” said the company.

The statement from Johnston Press followed weekend press speculation that it was in talks to sell a stable of newspapers in East Anglia.

The titles under discussion could include the Newmarket Journal and Suffolk Free Press.

Johnston Press said last week its group revenues year-on-year were down 5.1% for the 17 week period to October 29.

But 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.”

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 were down 6.8% for the 17 week period, (3.5% down in October), having been down 9.2% in H1.