Johnston Press doubles underlying profit in declining market

By Sarah Cosgrove, Thursday 13 August 2015

Be the first to comment

Johnston Press has more than doubled underlying profits in a declining market, but contract printing revenues remain flat, according to its latest results.

johnston-highfield

Highfield: local publishing is less volatile than national publishing

The Edinburgh-headquartered company reported a drop in underlying turnover for the first six months to 4 July of 4.6% to £128.9m. But underlying profit before tax increased 114.3% year on year to £17.8m from £8.3m, according to interim results released this week.

The company said it had benefitted from reduced interest costs following refinancing. It also made savings of £7.6m during the period.

It also benefitted from a drop in paper prices over the past 12 months, but in its report the company expressed concern about future price rises. After staff costs, newsprint is its largest single expense.

Johnston’s contract printing income, which represents about 7% of its turnover, remained the same as the first half of 2014 at £6.3m. However, this may change by year-end, following the start last month of a “multimillion-pound” five-year contract to print Express Newspapers’ four major print titles at its Dinnington site in Sheffield.

Print advertising revenue declined 9.5% in the period to £64.1m. It has also seen a drop in newspaper sales, to £37.6m, compared to £39.7 in the same period of 2014.

The average monthly audience, across both print and digital, for the period was up 8.7% year on year to 29.4m and audiences grew 3.4m, 20.4%, to 19.9m unique users a month, year on year.

Johnston grew its digital audience by over 20% to an average monthly audience of 19.9m the first half of 2015, leading to an increase of 17.5% in digital revenues, from £14.1m to £16.5m. Digital now represents 20.5% of its advertising revenue.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “Trading conditions in the first half of 2015 have undoubtedly been challenging, with May and June being particularly difficult - a time when there was also a high degree of uncertainty in the wider market.

“However, we believe, local publishing, with SMEs representing 80% of our advertising revenue, is not as volatile as national publishing. We have seen some improvement in reducing the decline in advertising revenues in July compared to July 2014. 

"We will continue to drive for further improvement in revenues, albeit off a lower base, and will also continue to target further cost savings.”

The company has 13 paid-for daily newspapers, including The Scotsman, 195 paid-for weekly newspapers, 40 free titles, 10 lifestyle magazines and 198 local news and e-commerce websites across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Turnover for the 53 weeks to 3 January 2015 was £268.8m. 

Share this

Related headlines

Johnston Press reveals Express contract alongside 2014 accounts
25 March 2015

Johnston Press has won a “multi-million pound” five-year contract to print Express Newspapers’ four major...

Johnston Press eyes ad revenue tipping point in 2015
30 October 2014

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has said the regional publisher is close to returning...

Johnston Press confident on strategy following 'solid' first half
06 August 2014

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield said he was confident in the firm's ability to return...

Johnston Press announces £360m refinance, Formpress disposal and Sky partnership
12 May 2014

Johnston Press has announced a £360m refinance alongside the sale of its Republic of Ireland business...

Johnston Press posts £287m loss
28 March 2014

More than £300m in net exceptional items led to a statutory pre-tax loss of £287m in the 12 months to...

This Issue

Latest comments