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Johnston presses ahead

Johnston Press is reporting that trading for the first five months of the year has been “encouraging” and ahead of the board’s expectations.

Its latest trading update reveals like-for-like advertising revenues grew by two per cent in the first five months of the year, compared to the same period in 2002.

All classified categories ahead but display advertising fell slightly behind due to weaker demand from national advertisers.

The regional newspaper group has also seen the overall circulation of its weekly titles continue to increase, although the daily titles have experienced slight circulation declines.

Related newspaper sales revenues have also continued to grow, according to the group.

Its portfolio includes the Portsmouth News, Sunderland Echo, Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette, Northamptonshire Chronicle & Echo, and Halifax Courier, as well as the recently acquired Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.

The group says the integration of Regional Independent Media is progressing ahead of what was planned and is on target for cost savings of more than £10m in the first full year of Johnston Press ownership.

The trading update, released ahead of the interim results statement in August, said: “Despite the prevailing climate of economic uncertainty, the Board currently anticipates modest advertising revenue growth for the full year.

“This, combined with continued control of costs and the enhanced RIM synergies, gives the Board confidence about the prospects for the remainder of 2003 and of achieving further progress for the year as a whole.”

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©NEP 2003