Johnston Press: ‘digital growth offsets print decline’

Johnston Press — owner of The Scotsman, the i newspaper and about 200 local newspapers and websites — said growth in its digital revenues and at the i newspaper combined to offset print decline across its operations in the 26 week period ended July 1, 2017.

Johnston Press said revenue, excluding classifieds, rose 4.6% to £85.6 million.

But Johnston’s adjusted pretax profit fell to £6.7 million from £9.7 million a year earlier.

The i newspaper’s circulation revenue rose to £11 million from £4.4 million.

Johnston Press said its digital advertising revenue rose 14.8%, excluding classifieds.

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield said: “In the context of the broader industry trading environment where print classifieds in particular are in continued significant structural decline, we are focused on creating a business for the future.

“Our core business provides advertising and digital marketing solutions to companies, large and small, around our trusted, quality, brands that have significant reach into their communities.

“This is a business which we have long believed needed to transform, but once done, could return to growth.

“Thus, since 2012 we have been making the necessary and at times painful changes to transform Johnston Press into a truly cross-platform business.

“Whilst trading remains challenging, the business has responded and, as a result of our substantial efforts and clear strategic focus, I am very pleased to announce that we have posted revenue growth in the business (excluding classifieds) of 4.6% during the half.

“Digital revenues (excluding classifieds) have outweighed the declines of print advertising revenues, helped by an editorial focus that has resulted in digital audiences at a record high, and by a fantastic performance from the i newspaper which has achieved significantly enhanced performance during the sixteen months since acquisition .

“The group delivered adjusted EBITDA of £19.7 million in the first six months, in line with the board’s expectations.

“Having implemented the next phase of planned cost reduction initiatives aligned to the group’s wider publishing strategy, the board remains confident in the outlook for the rest of 2017.”