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'Excellent' result as Johnston profits hit £77.3m

A boost in advertising revenue growth has helped Johnston Press record half-year pre-tax profits of £77.3m – an increase of 16 per cent.

The company’s focus on “managing an efficient business” is also being hailed a factor.

The regional newspaper publisher, which owns more than 240 newspapers and 167 websites, has welcomed the “excellent” result.

The figure was reached thanks partly to a £2.1m profit from the company’s electronic media activities.

The group’s interim results for the six months to June 30 showed growth across all advertising categories, with group revenue up by six per cent and volume growth up 4.6 per cent.

New revenue initiatives such as the re-publishing of classified advertisements in complementary specialist advertising-only publications also contributed to that growth.

Newspaper sales revenues increased by 1.7 per cent, underlining the strength of Johnston’s paid-for weekly titles, where circulation grew by 0.3 per cent.

However, the group reported a fall of 4.9 per cent in the average circulation of its daily titles, partly due to a change in ABC rules which meant a faster than planned reduction in bulk sales.

A number of titles did see an improvement though, with the Scarborough Evening News one of those that is selling more papers.

Chief executive Tim Bowdler said that despite the good start to the second half, he expected the rate of increased ad revenues to slow.

But he said: “Newsprint prices remain stable and the Group continues to maintain a tight control of costs, giving the Board confidence about the prospects for the remainder of 2004 and of achieving good progress for the year as a whole.”

  • Two major projects to increase colour availability on its presses in Leeds and Sunderland are progressing to plan, with Leeds already in production and Sunderland due for completion before the end of the year. Its new Sheffield printworks also remains on schedule for completion by the end of 2006.

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    ©NEP 2004