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Johnston Press revenues up 0.2pc as big city titles rally

Johnston PressNewspaper publisher Johnston Press has posted a small year-on-year increase in revenues for the first four months of 2017 with national daily the i continuing to bolster its overall performance.

In a trading update issued ahead of Monday’s AGM, the company said revenues for the period 1 January to 30 April rose by 0.2pc compared with the same period in 2016.

Circulation revenues for the i rose by 23pc while circulation volumes for some of JP’s big city regionals also improved – although no percentage figures were given.

If revenues from the i are excluded from the overall figures, total revenues were down 12pc for the period.

The trading update stated: “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 company has also announced that Jamie Buchan, the former chief executive of the Southern Cross Healthcare Group, is joining the Board as a non-executive director, replacing Malaysia-based financier Ralph Marshall.

Mr Buchan is also executive chairman of Craigewan Ltd and a former chief executive of the London International Exhibition Centre.

Camilla Rhodes, Interim Chairman of Johnston Press, commented: “On behalf of the Board I am delighted to welcome Jamie Buchan to Johnston Press. His very considerable experience across a number of fields will be of great value to the Company.

“I would like to thank Ralph Marshall for the enormous contribution that he has made to the Board over the past nine years. We wish him well for the future.”

13 comments

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  • May 19, 2017 at 9:50 am
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    If Johnston Press put some effort into improving their local newspapers – which their policies have destroyed – they, too, would improve circulations. They should drop the dire Newsroom of the Future and the disgraceful ‘filler’ adverts, replacing them with local news, features and columns. Since the swingeing cuts began, the circulation of the newspaper I used to proudly work for has halved. But, hey-ho, I’m now a van driver, delivering groceries, earning far more money and listening to non-stop complaints from readers who used to enjoy my journalistic contributions to the paper. Life goes on!

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  • May 19, 2017 at 10:18 am
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    The key point is without the i ,revenue in thebonce core papers would be down another 12%
    That’s the main issue the shareholders should be concerned about.

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  • May 19, 2017 at 10:58 am
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    How ironic that despite JPs suicidal policies on local papers and ‘eggs in one basket’ promotion of digital it is the print side of the business which has contributed to this revenue increase. It is well past the time for JP to admit that digital is a total failure. It is time to turn the clock back to 2007 and put investment back into print. Re-open town centre offices. Hire back the skilled jurnos and photogs savagely made redundant. Take pride in producing high quality papers that the public will want to buy and advertisers will want to use. It’s not rocket science!

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  • May 19, 2017 at 12:52 pm
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    Increase in 0.2% or revenues means nothing. It’s the profit that counts. I never did find out how they financed the i purchase for £24m, when the company is now worth £16m, its laughable.

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  • May 19, 2017 at 1:37 pm
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    The idea that by turning the clock back 10 years and pouring money into the traditional business model can somehow resurrect the regional press like a latter-day Lazarus is rose-tinted optimism on the grandest of scales.

    Whilst a series of disastrous decisions by various newspaper groups on how to meet the challenge of the internet has contributed greatly to the present parlous position of the regional press in this country, the underlying problem is far more serious and complex.

    The truth is that for the last 50 years the regional press has been hemorrhaging readers at an unsustainable rate. Whilst advertising was buoyant, of course, they could bob along quite nicely, but there had to come a day of reckoning.

    The reasons for dwindling readerships are many and varied, but have as much to do with changing lifestyles as with the state and deterioration of the quality of the cash-strapped British regional press in the latter years.

    History tells us very clearly that circulation lost is circulation gone forever. There may be the occasional rise in a certain paper to give cause for optimism, but it is never sustained.

    The sad truth is that the very audience the regional press needs to reach are voting with their feet and walking round the writhing body of an industry in its death throes. It is going to take something of a miracle to stop them in their tracks and render first aid.

    The internet is no more than a distraction in this cycle of decline. Newspaper managements caught on the cusp of this terminal decline, quite naturally imagined they may be able to click their way to a new revenue stream.

    There may be the remotest of chances for newspapers serving the largest of conurbations (though, personally, I doubt even that) but for the smaller papers there is no chance.

    They are very small fish in the largest of ponds, where distraction to further distraction lurks on every web page they visit. Planning appeals and petty crime can’t hold a candle to the latest revelations as to the state of Kim Kardashian’s derriere.

    There may well be a business model out there that can save at least the rump of the regional press, and let us hope that someone. somewhere can find it, but of one thing I am certain , it is pointless turning back the clock and imagining that the last ten years have been nothing but a really bad dream.

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  • May 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm
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    I am, once again, intrigued by the notion that circulations are improving in some city daily titles. Last time they said this, they weren’t. They were instead showing signs of an improving rate of decline.

    It would be useful to make sure the language is right next time.

    Otherwise, slightly more positive signs should be welcomed, even if they are against weak previous year numbers when the sales reorganisation was, well… not working very well.

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  • May 19, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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    Sister is correct , no amount o wishful thinking will turn back the clock and halt the rapidly increasing speed of decline for regional newspapers or their poor web sites and digital offerings, too much damage had been done by so many for so long to keep patching up the leaks, reinventing the medium or believing today’s reduced and weakened departments will in any way be able to cope and compete with newer, less encumbered media offerings and working models

    Sadly it will take much more than a tiny spike in a sales figure and a tempietaty slow down in copy sales to redress the wrongdoing of the bigger publishers who failed so spectacularly to move with the times and invest in journalism when they most needed to do so

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  • May 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm
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    Sutler is right. The horse bolted many moons ago. This news will make no difference to the poor sods pushing out JPs sub-standard papers without enough staff.

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  • May 19, 2017 at 6:53 pm
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    Is sounds as if Sutler is the brains behind Newsroom of the Future. It’s strange that the firm I worked for, before Johnston Press arrived with their war chest, maintained circulation and profits. JP plunged local papers all over GB and Ireland into mega-debt, imposed swingeing cuts and destroyed the content. The rest is history.

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  • May 22, 2017 at 11:28 am
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    If I were the brains behind The Newsroom of the Future, I would have done the decent thing years ago and quietly eased my way off this mortal coil.

    My whole point is that if newspaper managements do not get a wriggle on, there will be No Newsrooms in the Future.

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  • May 25, 2017 at 11:06 am
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    Spot on piece from Sutler. Sadly too many Dead Digital Horses out there

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